If you haven’t prepared your store for heavy traffic on Black Friday, you’re risking catastrophic losses…

Black Friday (or “Cyber Week”) is unquestionably the liveliest time of year for online retailers. 

Mammoth sales generated from online shoppers in November can be the difference between ending the year on a pulsating high, or a crushingly sour note.

A typical online store can experience up to ten times the normal level of traffic during this period. 

You’ve undoubtedly worked hard bringing your business through the strain of tough economic conditions. and embraced the shift to online shopping brought about by the pandemic. 

But an innocent oversight of not preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Week can be disastrous.

Anyone responsible for an online business constantly asks themselves:

  • “Are we ready to handle a surge in traffic?”
  • “What will the impact be if we go offline?”
  • “Is there more we can do to prepare?”

And that’s regardless of whether consumers are lining up to hunt for the best Black Friday holiday deals, or it’s just an ordinary week.

At Gatling, we’re here to help you.

It’s our mission to ensure your success in this critical holiday shopping period – and beyond.

In this article, we’re going to help you prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Week success by addressing the following questions:

  • What are the risks of not preparing for Black Friday?
  • I haven’t prepared for Black Friday! Is it too late?
  • How complicated is it to prepare load testing for Black Friday?
  • Surely load testing Black Friday levels of traffic is expensive?

 

What are the risks of not preparing for Black Friday?

The risks of not preparing for potentially epic sales during Black Friday and Cyber week are massive

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The obvious risk? Lost sales and revenue of course. For example, Amazon found that even a tiny 100ms of additional latency can cost them a staggering 1% in sales.

But It isn’t just sales and money you can lose…

Reputation damage when things go wrong, such as the Black Friday outage experienced by retail giant Walmart, could affect your brand for a prolonged period… perhaps irreparably.

Worse – If your store can’t handle spikes in traffic from shoppers, your competitors will gleefully swallow those extra sales like a slice of pumpkin pie. 

A tidal wave of disappointed consumers unable to complete Black Friday purchases on your site could lead to a permanent mass exodus of once loyal customers.

 

I haven’t prepared for Black Friday! Is it too late?

Even if you understand the risks, you might think that since the holiday season is already round the corner, it’s too late to start preparing now…

Well as the old saying goes – the best time to prepare (for Black Friday) was yesterday… 

The second best time is now.

At Gatling, we pride ourselves on making it incredibly easy and cost effective for you to start load testing.

With our free Gatling open-source version, in-depth onboarding guidance and readily accessible cloud infrastructure, you could be running your first load test in an hour or less.

We even have an in-depth article on the different types of testing you might want to execute in preparation for Cyber Week.
stress and soak testsHere’s a couple of suggestions:

 

  • Stress Test – Simulate many users accessing your site at the same time, for example midnight on Cyber Monday.  This shows how your website reacts when hit with a huge influx of users.

 

  • Soak Test – Run a steady rate of traffic through your site for a prolonged period to identify where the bottlenecks and points of failure are.

 

 

Obviously it goes without saying the earlier you identify performance problems the better… 

But finding issues late in the day is undoubtedly preferable to experiencing catastrophic production outages during the holiday season.

Lastly, know this – A surge in traffic can come at any time, regardless of whether Santa’s got his Black Friday hat on. 

Regular load and stress testing is an activity you should take all year round, not just when there’s mistletoe in the hallway or Thanksgiving turkey on the table. 

Don’t see Cyber Week as the be-all, end-all.

 

How Complicated is it to do Load Testing for Black Friday?

Load testing probably makes you picture a team of highly-paid geeks writing complicated scripts to generate colossal levels of traffic from a vast network of computers.

But it’s a myth that load testing is an expensive, complex, time-consuming exercise only undertaken by the biggest corporations in the world. 

At Gatling, we’ve worked hard to make setting up load testing infrastructure seamless, regardless of your background or technical expertise.

Simply using the Gatling Recorder to simulate a user journey through your website, you’ll generate a Gatling script. 

Then either run the script yourself, or upload it to the cloud with Gatling Enterprise.

In just a few clicks, you’ll be simulating massive levels of traffic against your store from distributed load testing infrastructure across the world.

We do the hard work and heavy lifting for you.

If you’re sceptical it can be this easy, then take a few minutes to see for yourself. 

The Gatling Academy offers completely free step-by-step guidance on using Gatling and writing your first stress test.

Beyond this – we have detailed support, resources and documentation to guide every step of your journey. 

 

Will it be Expensive to run Stress Tests for Black Friday?

You’re probably thinking this all sounds splendid, but surely it’s going to cost a fortune? I’d be better off taking my chances with untested infrastructure and hoping for the best – right?

Wrong.

With Gatling Open Source, stress testing doesn’t have to cost you anything. You can simulate thousands (even millions!) of consumers accessing your store over a shorter or longer period of time. All from your own device or computer.

When you want to get serious about stress testing, executing different types of load tests across distributed infrastructure, Gatling Enterprise is on hand to help.

Even then, you’ll only pay for load testing during your test executions. The beauty of running Gatling Enterprise in the cloud is that the test environment is created on demand.

You’ll only ever pay for what you use – exponentially cheaper than investing in dedicated infrastructure or tooling.

 

Next steps to prepare your store for Black Friday and Cyber Week

Hopefully this article has at least spiked (pun intended) your curiosity around load testing. Perhaps we’ve also debunked some of the myths around load testing being complicated or expensive.

Now for your next steps:

  • If you have no experience with Gatling whatsoever, we’d highly recommend enrolling in the Gatling Academy. Our completely free and in-depth video courses will walk you through all the steps to configure the open-source version of Gatling and run your first tests.
  • The Gatling Community is a great place to hang-out, get a feel for what others are doing to prepare for Black Friday, and get help with any questions you have about Gatling or stress testing in general.
  • Gatling Enterprise Cloud removes the complexity and high-cost of running a distributed stress test. In a few clicks, you can simulate the traffic of thousands of customers making sales on your online store. Once the test has finished the infrastructure is decommissioned in a flash, so you’ll only ever pay for what you use.

Gatling Community, Academy and Enterprise

Even in an increasingly fragmented and competitive world, with a website primed to take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Week you can turn seasonal shoppers into frequent buyers that will stick around in 2023 and beyond.

We’re here to help you succeed.