Author: Tom Cottrill | Date Posted: May 19, 2022
Running an ecommerce store requires a quick, well-functioning website that is built for performance and user experience. When you first start an ecommerce store, the requirements for the site are lower, only needing to process so many purchases per day. This means that it doesn’t need to have a high capacity for website traffic—at least nothing higher than a normal website. However, when it comes to significant growth or knowing you will be running a large promotion, Black Friday sale, promoting your business in a publication or on a Shark Tank type environment, you will realize that you need a high traffic website up and running to ensure it is able to handle the high volume of purchases that will be made.
A high traffic website is one that is receiving a “large number of simultaneous requests from users expecting fast load times.” Delays during these high traffic moments can lead to frustrated customers and many lost sales. For a website to operate cleanly during a high traffic moment, it must already be properly optimized for mobile and desktop. Typically a high traffic website would be one that is receiving more than 5000 visitors at one time.
Think of this scenario: a medium-sized ecommerce store goes on Shark Tank and talks about their product. They may or may not get bought by one of the sharks. Either way, all those people who are watching the show have now seen the show are about to go on a journey looking for their product, and many of them will want to go to the store’s website, look at cost and details, and possibly make a purchase. If that site has not already been set up prior to that airtime to receive high amounts of traffic, it will either load very slowly or crash altogether, causing server errors and all those people who were trying to make a purchase to lose interest and leave the site. From a situation like this, it could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost sales in a very small window of time.
Now, your company probably isn’t going on any big sea creature-hosted show anytime soon, but it does not mean that you are not in need of a properly optimized high traffic website. Your company may be growing more slowly, but you might be at the point where you are seeing that you’re getting 4000+ visitors per day or at any given time, or big promotions may bring in big numbers like this, even if it’s not on a regular basis. To make sure you are prepared for this increase in users, you need to make sure your site is properly optimized for high amounts of traffic.
Well, obviously in the Shark Tank example, the need for a high traffic website is incredibly predictable. However, in the smaller scale, it isn’t always completely predictable, but knowing some of the common causes of high traffic can help you get ahead of it and prepare. Some of these causes include:
If that increase in traffic does come and you’re unprepared, you lose out. The best option for your company is to try your best to predict that an increase in traffic is coming and prepare for it. If that isn’t possible, you might find that you lose some business and really need to make sure it never happens again. Make sure you’re prepared for when high amounts of traffic come to your ecommerce site.
Knowing your analytics and other important metrics on a regular basis will help you prepare as you notice an increase in purchases, website visitors, and your website’s current capacity. Start by looking at both organic and paid traffic to your site using Google Analytics or another on-site analytics software. You also need to make sure you’re monitoring precisely how many visitors your website can handle simultaneously. This can be done by your website developer using a built-in tool that will monitor and load test performance, or it can be done with a free monitoring software that specializes in this sort of monitoring.
Hosting is crucial in ensuring your site can handle high traffic. Hosts will often limit the amount of traffic a website can handle, and this is especially true if you’re on a shared server with other websites. If you are expecting high traffic in advance, you may want to consider looking into a different hosting plan that will offer you unlimited, or at least less limited, resources so it can handle a high increase. Start with contacting your hosting provider to determine what your current plan offers and what happens if you hit the limit on the resources they are allowing. They may have other plans for an upgrade, or you may have to look into other options entirely. Either way, this is an important starting point and incredibly crucial information.
An out-of-date website will not be running at its full capacity. This means you’ll have slow load speed, plugins that might not be working properly, and a PHP that isn’t operating your site as it should be. Make sure your themes, plugins, and entire site are updated at all times. Your hosting company will be able to take care of these updates for you if they aren’t already contracted to update the site regularly.
Installing a caching plugin will improve the performance of your site, optimize it, and increase overall site speed. This allows your website to communicate less with your database, meaning it can operate quicker and run smoother, both of which are important as a high traffic website. Basically what it does it feeds the cached version of your site to your visitors rather than going back and forth to your database.
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