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8 Things to Check to Avoid an Ecommerce Website Block

8 Things to Check to Avoid an Ecommerce Website Block

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According to Adobe, the 2022 holiday season has passed $211.7 billion in online spending in the US — 3.5 percent more than the previous year.

If you are an eCommerce store owner, these statistics show that the holiday season is a great opportunity for big profits. If you can entice shoppers with enticing deals and discounts, you can end the year with a bang.

However, you need a fail-safe eCommerce store to keep up with the high traffic that the holiday season brings. Otherwise, you will be left with a dead ecommerce website and a drop in brand reputation.

For example, Ulta Beauty, a major beauty supply retailer, collapsed a few hours after its Black Friday sale, with its customers expressing their anger on social media.

In this guide, we’ll help you make your eCommerce website fail-safe by covering the things to check before a big sale.

Things to Check on Your Ecommerce Website Before a Big Sale

traffic numbershosting infrastructurewebsite performancecaching systemsPlugins and Extensionswebsite securitycode errorsBackup and disaster recovery

traffic numbers

How much traffic do you receive per day? You can usually acquire website traffic data through Google Analytics. If you haven’t set it up yet, you can add Google Analytics to your WordPress website in a few minutes.

On top of that, you should also get traffic numbers for your past sales. Using those numbers, you would get a good ballpark figure of the expected traffic on the next sale.

With the expected traffic, you can use a load testing tool to test your ecommerce website. For example, you can use New Relic to gradually increase traffic and check the stability of your website. At Nexcess we offer integrated support for New Relic.

While the sales traffic numbers above should lead the way, you can also load test your website with a 200 percent increase in traffic to look for bottlenecks that are limiting your performance.

Now that you know the limitations of your website, let’s move on to hosting.

hosting infrastructure

Your web hosting plan decides how many resources your website has. You need to make sure that your website has enough resources to withstand traffic spikes.

If you are using a cPanel based host, you can see how your website is doing through resource usage. If your usage continually exceeds the limit (shown by a red line), you should upgrade your plan as it is affecting your website’s performance.

Not to mention, you can also view the timestamps for the load tests performed in the previous section to see how your hosting plan’s resources fared.

If your web server works fine under everyday conditions but has trouble with load tests, check to see if it offers autoscaling. With autoscaling, your eCommerce site will get the resources to meet the increased demand during a sale.

For example, Nexcess lets you scale resources to meet traffic demands, and even offers 24 hours of free autoscaling per month per hosting plan.

Hosting provider reliability, also called uptime, is also important. At the very least, your web host should offer uptime consistent with the industry standard of 99.9 percent. Also, check your host’s uptime during the holiday season (particularly Black Friday).

At Nexcess, we typically have almost 100% uptime throughout the year.

website performance

The performance of your website during a big sale is critical. If your product pages don’t load fast enough, visitors might go elsewhere.

How fast should web pages load? Three seconds or less: That’s what 53 percent of online shoppers shared in a survey by Digital.com.

You can check the performance of your ecommerce website through PageSpeed ​​Insights and GTmetrix. If your website scores low, please resolve issues as soon as possible as Core Web Vitals is important for search engine optimization (SEO).

You can follow the recommendations (or opportunities) shared by PageSpeed ​​Insights and GTmetrix to improve the performance of your website.

caching systems

To avoid an eCommerce website crash, you need to lighten the load on your website’s hosting server. The best way to do that? Use caching. With caching, you can store dynamic content in static HTML, which reduces the load on the server.

If you’re already using a caching solution, make sure it’s configured correctly so that your server doesn’t need to recreate frequently accessed pages during demand spikes.

On top of that, make sure you’re using a content delivery network (CDN) in your caching mix. With a CDN, you cache website content on proxy servers distributed around the world.

As a result, visitors experience lower load times (they get content from nearby servers) and your website receives fewer requests (the CDN handles the lion’s share of requests).

Plugins and extensions

While WordPress plugins and Magento extensions add valuable functionality to your ecommerce website, they consume valuable server resources, some more than others. For example, All in One SEO can slow down the front and back of your website.

If you are hosting your WordPress site with Nexcess, you get access to the Plugin Performance Monitor. This tool can help you see how plugins affect your load time before your next big sale.

On top of that, you should also review your ecommerce site plugins or extensions and make sure that each item listed is valuable. For example, you may have installed a maintenance mode plugin that you no longer need.

Lastly, make sure each plugin and extension is up to date, as plugin updates often include performance improvements.

website security

Avoiding an eCommerce website crash also involves auditing the security of your website. In particular, you should have protection against a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, in which malicious actors or hackers attempt to crash your website by overloading the server.

You can trust a CDN to withstand a DDoS attack. By caching your website’s static content, a CDN offloads your server and helps you mitigate the attack.

However, a CDN is not always enough, as a large-scale DDoS attack can even overwhelm the capacity of a CDN.

Instead, you may need an extra layer of security from your web host or sign up for paid DDoS protection services like Amazon’s AWS Shield.

At Nexcess, we provide ModSecurity, a web application firewall, to protect your e-commerce website from DDoS attacks by limiting incoming requests from a single address and blocking suspicious agents.

Still, website security doesn’t end with DDoS protection. After the big sales of the holiday season, you want to see a big profit, not an extensive data breach. Make sure customers’ payment card details are secure by opting for PCI-compliant hosting.

code errors

You must take quality assurance seriously. After all, your developers can make mistakes in the form of typos.

While the live website is off limits (you don’t want to disturb visitors), you can use a staging website to test and troubleshoot your product pages, cart flows, and checkout. Most hosting services offer a free staging site on their premium plans. If not, you can try a test website plugin.

At Nexcess, you can set up one free staging site per domain.

Backup and disaster recovery

Even if something goes wrong and your site crashes, you should have a backup to restart the website afterwards. Opt for daily backups to ensure you lose as little progress as possible.

You usually get the backup service from your host. However, some hosting providers do not offer daily backups for free or only offer them in premium packages. In that case, you can go for free backup plugins like UpdraftPlus.

If you host your website with Nexcess, you get free daily backups with all hosting plans.

Final Thoughts: 8 Things to Check to Avoid an Ecommerce Website Block

A website crash on the big day negates everything you’ve done to prepare for your sale. Instead of increased profits, you walk away with an impact on your brand reputation.

But you can avoid it by partnering with a hosting provider who understands your website needs and offers you all the resources and support to succeed on sale day.

At Nexcess, our managed hosting plans for WooCommerce and Magento they come with autoscaling, a free CDN, and robust security to make your eCommerce website fail-safe. Not to mention, you enjoy 24/7/365 support, daily backups, and PCI compliance.

If you run a business, you can check out our business hosting packages, which offer everything in our managed hosting plans and more.

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