French Summer Sales 2017 – Health status of the ecommerce websites

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The French summer sales marathon is over for 2017! So to celebrate the end of this pivotal period for ecommerce, we decided to compile and analyze the metrics that our probes recorded during this race.

Our analysis focused on business elements (conversion rate, page views, turnover, etc.) and their technical implications, by comparing the activity of 450 sites on the first day of the sales period VS the average metrics recorded the day before the beginning of the sales. Well, it’s safe to say that we had some surprises. ^^

The great upheaval

As early as 8 am, the indicators began to rocket. At the end of the day, the turnover registered an average increase of + 359%!

This end result was the combination of several factors:

More visits

Many visitors meet, that day, on the exact same time slot as early as from 8 am (+ 155% of sessions).

More pages viewed

Visitors click more on this one day, and go further in their sales funnel (+ 182% of additional page views per visit).

Better conversion rate

The prices are more attractive and the Internet users are competing with each other to “seize” the best deals, so the conversion rate is also above normal (+ 38% on average).

That is how the combination of all these factors (more visitors, who go further in the sales tunnel, and thus buy more) has led to this +359% global increase in sales.

Congratulations to all for these results. 😉

But do not think it is simple to get there. These results were made possible thanks to a good management of the load by the platform, kept almost the whole time in operational conditions. One could even go further by talking about optimal conditions, ie the platform held the charge, at the peak of traffic, with page load times as fast as in the off-peak periods.

Small reminder on this point: in the ecommerce world, every 100ms of additional loading time impacts the final conversion rate. That is, if a site is slowed down by 2s per page during the first morning of sales period, you can expect it to register 20% less than predicted!

By analyzing the measures recorded on the hosting infrastructures during that same morning of sales, it’s easy to grasp the magnitude of the difficulty encountered by any emerchant who is preparing for a strong traffic on the day of the sales.

A technical challenge for estores

Because, yes, the very good results that the ecommerce sites recorded during the sales have a significant technical cost for the infrastructures.

Increased demand for infrastructure

Metrics showed this summer a +149% CPU load increase on french ecommerce infrastructures. This increase can be easily explained by the execution of the order processing and the CMS code (whether it is based on Magento, Prestashop, OroCommerce, or even a “home” solution).

What does it tell us ? From this number we can say that in order to keep a little room for mishaps on the infra, and to withstand this sudden increase in the load, it is often necessary for the emerchants to have 4 times more infrastructure on the D-Day, than on the rest of the year. On a so-called “fixed” infrastructure, this amounts to paying a quadruple capacity compared to its average need, and just for… 2 days in the year (the first day of the winter and summer sales) ! You can understand easily why elastic (or cloud) infrastructures have the wind in their sails at the moment.

To correctly anticipate the provisioning of infrastructures before the D-Day, the most recommended option remains the implementation of upstream load tests. On the subject, if you have any questions about how to set up these tests, do not hesitate to read our article dedicated to this matter.

Greater response times during peak traffic

There was a +44% increase in page response time, demonstrating that despite the addition of supplementary infrastructures for the D-Day, some users are still suffering from unoptimized and slower-than-usual software processing, hence the importance of:

  • Upstream optimization,
  • Load tests (yes. Again!),
  • And caches at all levels => varnish, cache block, …etc.

What does a 44% increase in response times represents, you say?

With an average of 600ms of page rendering time (this is the time for our panel of measured websites), a user has a navigation experience of an additional 250ms of loading times with each click, on the morning of sales period.

According to various studies, including that of the star, Amazon, 250ms of additional loading time is equivalent to about 2.5% of turnover loss. For the entire French ecommerce, it is therefore several million euros that can be lost in a single day, if the anticipation on traffic peaks is not properly carried out!

Indeed, there is a combination of a slowed time precisely on a day when the turnover is much higher, the effects of speed on conversion are thus multiplied.

This analysis of the summer 2017 sales shows how closely the commercial success of a website is linked to its technical preparation in many aspects:

  • The availability (an unavailable site does not sell anything and deteriorates the image of a brand),
  • The speed (each 100ms counts for the conversion rate … and the SEO too),
  • And how the infrastructure handles the load in general

In other words, this shows that success and web performance are intimately linked when talking about ecommerce.

See you soon in January 2018 for an upcoming analysis of the next french biggest peak of activity of the year. But by then, do not hesitate to contact us for an expert advice during your preparation.