How to Optimize E-Commerce Website Performance For Black Friday

Black Friday: What’s your Last Minute Game Plan? Time to optimize e-commerce website performance

It’s almost that wonderful time of year again, the SuperBowl of shopping, Black Friday, followed by Cyber Monday. While online shoppers are creating a strategic game plan by pre-scoping out the deals, furiously flexing their fingers and rehearsing their clicks in order to score that 50% off plasma screen TV, are you, as an online retailer, creating your own game plan to satisfy demand while maintaining an excellent customer experience? In the end, both you and your customers want the same thing: to score a touchdown, aka complete successful transactions online.

In truth, it can take months to optimize e-commerce website performance as well as that of mobile apps for the holiday season. If you haven’t started yet, don’t panic!

Here are some last minute things you can do.

Page Speed

Page speed is one aspect of performance testing that should be a major player in your game plan. According to a Harris 2015 poll, 46% of shoppers have said that they will never return to a slow website. Additionally, a recent study by Paypal found that 45% of customers abandoned carts more than once with an average order size of slightly more than $100, due to a myriad of factors. According to a recent report by SOASTA, 18% of shoppers have cited too slow web pages as a main factor.

Luckily, there are several free tools that you can use to quickly speed up load time:

According to its website: “ is a powerful online tool for reducing drastically the size of your images and photos whilst maintaining a high quality with almost no difference before and after compression.” When we learned about this tool, we were really impressed. We recommend it to clients when we send them reports that indicate that they should reduce the size of their images. By reducing the file size of an image, the page is able to load quicker.


This tool allows you to run a free website speed test from multiple locations around the globe. You can use real browsers (IE and Chrome) at real consumer connection speeds. You can run simple tests or more complicated tests including multi-step transactions, video capture, content blocking and much more. The results are very helpful in that they provide diagnostic information including resource loading waterfall charts, Page Speed optimization checks and suggestions for improvements.

This tool allows you to run tests locally or as a service on the web. It comes up with a similar report as Webpagetest, but it isn’t solely based on the URL you provide since it has a crawler that analyzes ALL the pages that one might reach.

PageSpeed & YSlow

PageSpeed and YSlow are essential for figuring out what exactly is slowing down your website and what to do about it. We enjoy using them because the information presented is very clear and easy to understand for testers and non-testers alike. Detailed explanations are given for why you should make each improvement and how they will be beneficial. These tools can also shed light on optimizations that you weren’t aware of before.

There are several well-known cases of companies that have boosted their bottom line by increasing page speed. In 2012,Walmart compared performance to conversion rates and found that the overall average site load time for converted visitors was lower (~ 3.22 seconds) than that of the visitors who had didn’t convert (~6.03 seconds). In the same year, Intuit cut its load time in half for several of its marketing web pages and saw a 14% increase in conversions.

optimizing eccomerce website performanceLoad and Stress Testing

Improving page speed is just one way to optimize e-commerce website performance for the holidays. Can your website handle an enormous influx of shoppers at the same moment, all trying to carry out the same task? Another key element of any Black Friday game plan that helps you answer this question is running performance tests (specifically load and stress tests). It is important to understand what load scenario you want to test, and what data, tools, and infrastructure are necessary to run the tests. After executing, you want to be able to understand the results of the tests and identify what needs to be optimized. That’s where Abstracta’s highly skilled performance testers come into play.

Lastly, Don’t Forget About Mobile

Black Friday is the #1 day for mobile shoppers, with the weekend before Christmas close behind. IBM found that mobile accounted for 51.2% of all browsing and 28.9% of Black Friday sales in 2014.apptim logo

We recommend that you use the tool, Apptim, to test your Android mobile app for performance, security, and functionality on real devices. It will send you a report with a list of things you can do to optimize your app.

One last thought… Although we are headed for an intense season for e-commerce, it’s always “Black Friday” somewhere! Meaning, it’s important to continuously test the performance of your site year round, as this Blazemeter blog post explains. You never know if a sale or promotion will result in a flood of customers crashing your site (which may be both a blessing and a burden)!

We hope this post helps you improve your holiday e-commerce game plan! Let us know about your experiences in the comments.

May you and your customers score several transaction touchdowns!

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