How to Prevent Website Downtime and Prepare for Peak Traffic

Time to read: 4 minutes
Holly Dresden
Regional Success Architect, Senior Director, Salesforce
On any given day, customers have little patience for website downtime and slow load time. This is exacerbated by major events, including the COVID-1 pandemic, which has caused traffic, orders, and customer expectations to surge.

58% of consumers expect to do more online shopping after the pandemic than before.

The key is to set aggressive goals around your maximum possible traffic and sales load and prepare your storefront to handle it. In this article, you’ll learn about the technical aspects of how to prevent website downtime and get your site ready for anytime demand.

Monitor website demand

Peak demand can push your site to its limits. Stay familiar with typical performance outside of peak events so you can spot anomalies. Prepare in advance, monitor website demand spikes, and solve issues as they arise.
Response times: Pay special attention to metrics for product search pages and product detail pages. Ensure the average response time for non-checkout activities does not exceed 500 ms. Adjust caching as needed. Your most-visited pages should fall within average response times and cache-hit percentages.
Data: Make it a regular habit to sift through old data. Purge old campaigns, catalogs, promotions, coupons, content assets, and wish lists. You might want to retain inventory records, product lists and prices, and coupon redemption data.
Caching: Cache pages that customers access regularly, such as the home page and search pages. Do not cache pages that are customer-specific or that have data that changes often.
Troubleshooting: Check pipeline and script runtimes to identify problem areas of code. Consider a searchable log center to find error messages quickly. Monitor external services and review and address quota concerns, since these can hurt performance.

Get in the habit of testing everything

Global commerce has no downtime — and neither should your site. Make regular testing an act of business. Site performance is a shared responsibility between you and your commerce provider.
Performance testing: Work with your commerce provider to regularly perform website speed testing to identify any throttles. Image size is a common one, so make sure your image optimization process is up to date — and your content team is trained on it.
Load testing: Run testing, including for third-party systems, to see how the site holds up under peak visits, searches, and orders, all the way through to checkout. Remember: Bot attacks can occur during flash sales, so account for this stress as well. Some are for SEO purposes, but others are more aggressive and should be blocked.
Traffic flow: Consider how traffic should flow through your site. In an optimal architecture, most requests are handled at the web tier. A much smaller amount will reach the computationally heavy application tier. An even smaller amount of traffic should reach the database tier. This last layer also includes caching.

Align your teams

Do you know how to get in touch with your key stakeholders in case of an emergency? Ensure they are primed to jump in if and when your site sees an uptick in demand.
Internal procedures: Involve business leaders and representatives from teams such as customer, brand, IT, and operations. Plan out escalation procedures and define each team’s role.
Contact lists: Maintain and regularly update contact information for team members and critical third-party providers, such as the DNS provider.
Support plan: Arrange 24/7 support coverage for planned peak periods and unplanned ones as they arise. Keep external partners in the loop, too.

Ensure security and privacy

Security is critical to maintaining your site — and customer trust. Stay abreast of the best security technology and regularly run checks.
Two-factor authentication: This is now a requirement of the Salesforce Commerce Cloud platform. It prevents most security attacks, including phishing, card-skimming, and form-jacking, which is when cybercriminals use a form on your site to insert malicious code.
Privacy regulations: Stay up-to-date on privacy regulations at the regional and country level. Your commerce provider should help you navigate every regulation and ensure compliance — from GDPR to CCPA.

Prepare your high traffic website

Preparing for peak scale events and preventing website downtime takes time. To complement your site’s technical updates, get your merchandising and marketing strategy ready with these tips.

When you work with Salesforce Commerce Cloud, you will receive hands-on support at every phase of your journey. We are successful when you are successful, so we make sure that you get the support you need, from resources to expert advice. You will be able to confidently handle any event or sudden surge in website demand. Learn more.


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