Is Your Online Store Ready for Black Friday? (Part 1)
You know what Black Friday is, don't you? You are looking forward to huge discounts, tempting sales and alluring deals... Also you just can't wait to buy something great during the shopping season? Of course! But today we will not be discussing this. We would like to give you a few tips on how to sell more through your online store. We will not focus on marketing, campaigns, clicks or banners. Instead we will discuss how to optimize your website so that it can withstand the rush of visitors on this year's Black Friday.
Very often website owners face the question:
How many users will my website attract during Black Friday?
The answer is a key to proper planning of the necessary hosting resources. For marketing experts that is a piece of cake. Depending on marketing budgets, communication channels and the discounts you offer, the number of visitors on your online store can multiply by ten times. Especially if you are planning a large-scale online or a TV ad campaign! If you usually have about 200 daily visits, consider that on Black Friday your online store will be visited at least 4000 times.
So now we have a starting point of 4000 visits per day. This is not too big of a number and in most cases a suitable shared hosting plan would work. When announcing our new hosting plans we decided to add to their descriptions the approximate number of visitors that they can handle. However, this number can be reached in case the visitors can be equally distributed through each day of the month. If we look at the SuperStart plan, we notice that it can handle approximately 12 000 visitors per month. But for Black Friday we calculated about 4000 which comprise 33% of the monthly limit only for a day. So we reach the conclusion that the SuperStart plan is not suitable in this case. Therefore transferring to the SuperHosting plan would be the most appropriate choice.
Some of you might say that this is a ridiculous tip. I am now telling you to choose the most expensive hosting plan. But let us have a look at further details.
You can calculate the page views with Google Analytics or AWStats.
Here you need the average number of page views a user will generate. In Google Analytics this metric is called Pages / Session. There is no visualization for this metric in AWStats but you can easily estimate it by dividing Pages into the „Number of visits“.
If we accept that a user normally views 3 pages per website in average, we will reach a total of 12000 page views on Black Friday.
You can see the average daily bandwidth usage by checking the statistics for your website's CPU time (available in your customer profile). It is useful to check how CPU time changes in ordinary days, compared to days when you have more sales than expected.
Let's consider that your website's average CPU time is 27 minutes per day. I already mentioned that during ordinary days you have 200 visits which means about 600 page views. Simple math leads to the following calculation:
27 * 60 / 600 = 2,7 seconds CPU time per page
This is drastically above the shared hosting maximum value and indicates that you probably need to optimize. Let's go further:
2,7 * 12000 / 60 = 540 minutes CPU time
So we calculated 540 minutes of CPU time in total. This goes beyond any shared hosting plan. The most superior SuperHosting plan supports up to 160 minutes of CPU time. As a hosting company we can offer a plan B in such situations, but with three times bigger CPU time you will most probably experience problems with website loading during Black Friday. In the specific case the best solution would be Managed VPS Duo, because it can handle up to 700 minutes of CPU time per day.
Important: This is valid only if you host one website per plan. If you are using Add-on domains, you can make similar calculations for each of them as you put together their CPU time and compare it to the hosting plan you are using.
As already mentioned, 2.7 seconds are too big of a value for processing only one page. Therefore I suggest the following strategies for reducing it:
- Optimize SQL queries. Usually SQL queries require a lot of processing time, especially with online stores. If you suspect having „slow queries“, you might contact us so that we check them. A lot of SuperHosting.BG's customers take advantage of fast SSDs for their database and some are already using ALL SSD with our new hosting platform!
- Activate a PHP code optimization module such as OPcache. You can enable OPcache in cPanel » PHP Manager by SuperHosting.
- Activate PHP 7 if your website is compatible. Often it can improve the website's performance. PHP7 can also be enabled in your cPanel.
- Use Memcached or Redis. We can help you if your CMS supports it by default. If you are using a custom system, we recommend that you spend some time integrating Memcached or Redis. If you have WooCommerce you can try speeding up your website with WordPress Manager by SuperHosting.
- Activate Web Accelerator like SuperCache. SuperCache is a Web Accelerator that caches the whole source code of a page as this includes both static and dynamic content. Unlike Memcached or Redis that both work on application level, SuperCache is operating before the real server where the website is hosted.
- Create a static landing page. If you are planning to offer just a few promo items, create a separate static page without using PHP or MySQL. You can redirect the landing page visitors to your website. This way you can filter visitors who are just browsing and those who are potential customers interested in buying your products.
- Transfer to the most suitable hosting plan or service. Our plans are optimized to provide you with the best website speed within the guaranteed CPU time. If the spent CPU time is drastically above the hosting maximum value, it is possible that some of the advanced system parameters exceed their limits. Thus websites will load slowly or go down and you will lose your visitors and sales profit.
The most important thing is not to leave optimizing for the last possible minute! Each of the suggested tips here needs to be tested in real time. Take your time because there is no universal solution that will work in each specific case. Our experienced support team is available if you need further information or any assistance.
If you are not prepared, you will not have enough time to react on Black Friday. We can provide more resources, but cannot optimize your website or CMS at the last possible moment.
During Black Friday we might not have the chance to react on the spur of the moment as we usually do. That's why I recommend:
Plan on time to sell more!