Everyone in the company was excited and all geared up for the super sale that was set to start at 10 a.m. You look at the clock in your office and know the amazing sales results you are eager to show off to your boss will soon be here!!! But within minutes your world… and ecommerce site…. all comes tumbling down. In a panic you run down to the IT department to find out what is wrong and to make sure they get it rectified fast!!! You burst into the IT room and demand to know, “What happened?” The words “too much traffic” makes your knees weak.
The very stressed and sad Technical Director looks up at you and gives you the bad news, “The site is overloaded, we can’t handle the volume of traffic that is demanding service from the site.” You stare at him incredulously and ask “Okay, but when will it be repaired” and he explains to you that it will be solved, “As soon as the customers stop trying to get to our website we will be back in service.” You stand there, frozen and not believing what you are hearing. In this day and age of super fast transmission and super technical wizardry you are wondering how can this have happened and how can it be true? This is a high tech age for sure. So high tech that websites need to be not just designed and put in place but they needs continuous monitoring. They need a wealth of monitoring to make sure that you are in business all the time and in business at an optimal performance level. You should be monitoring everything.
Nobody thought to check ahead of time what the website could handle traffic wise. Assumptions were made that it will be fine. But nobody took the time to check and make sure. If a load test had been run ahead of time it would have exposed the fact that while the website was more than capable to handle the day to day traffic, build pages fast and process speedy transactions it was not ready for a surge in traffic. What was not accurately considered was the flood of virtually simultaneous and ongoing attempts to access the website. If the test had been run ahead of time you would have seen the weakness and been able to resolve the problem before it ever happened. You could have protected your business and your revenues.
It is an amazing fact that the scenario above has not only happened, but it has happened repetitively and has happened to some very large ecommerce sites that have large and professional IT staffs. Businesses such as Dixons, Debenhams, Next, M&S, The voice, Clickfrenzy and Target have all suffered exactly the scene I laid out above.
To put this all in perspective let us examine what the damages were. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on weeks of advertising on; billboards, newspapers, TV, radio, magazine articles and online adverts. But that is probably the least of the damage. In one very well documented case of not load testing and getting prepared for the surge in traffic the business lost over $25,000,000.00 in online sales. And those sales probably went to the competitors. The final and not immediately measurable damage is to reputation. And once your reputation is damaged it takes a long time to recover and regain customer confidence. So don’t make the same mistake others have, don’t assume and don’t suffer preventable losses. Set up your monitoring system to measure all facets of your web presence. And for sure… run load tests both whenever you are expecting a sudden surge in traffic and also on a regularly scheduled basis. Let you preparations in monitoring protect you and your business.