eMarketer is predicting a 12 percent increase in holiday shopping over last year, which is great news for retailers. However, increased online shopping also means increased visitors to websites, making it more likely that they will not be able to handle the extra traffic, with potentially costly outages. Patrick Lightbody, senior director of product management at Neustar, suggests using load testing to safeguard against outages. Load testing is a technique that practices generating heavy traffic loads as a way of identifying potential bottlenecks inside and outside of a site's firewall, to gage how many users it can handle at one time.
This process, which typically takes at least two to three weeks to complete, usually involves three tests; the first provides a snapshot of the site's current performance, the second test validates changes made from these results, and the third is a pre-launch validation that should reveal the site's peak performance point. The tests should include most frequently visited parts of the site, such as the home page, checkout, and exit.
Lightbody notes that there are two options when it comes to load testing: on-demand services that let the user run tests 24/7, and full-service testing, which normally includes a dedicated engineer. Both methods have their strengths and weaknesses, so it is best to check all options before proceeding.
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