How Retailers are Speeding Up Their Websites for Holiday Shoppers
Test and Monitor | Posted December 02, 2011

Monitoring the website performance of retailers over Thanksgiving weekend, we noticed companies deploying new tactics to prepare their sties for the holidays. This year, retailers went beyond load testing to ensure their sites could handle heavy traffic loads, and took steps to even speed up their websites.

How? By substituting traditional home pages with a quick load page that gives users easy access to the search box and incentivizes user to continue shopping by offering discounts or money back.

Consider this case in point. Here is a screenshot of Neiman Marcus's standard home page:

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Now here is the home page that Neiman Marcus delivered to users over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend:

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As a retailer, you might be tempted to load up your home page with flashy images of product specials and sales, but doing so bloats the page and slows it down.

In the aforementioned example, Neiman Marcus retained the important portions of its website (the search and menu bars, for example), and even offered a promotion to shoppers in a sleek new design. The result was that on Cyber Monday Neiman Marcus delivered an average 5.03 second load time, a slight decrease over its average load time during Q3. This improvement came while response time averages for the industry as a whole increased.

Another methodology is to eliminate some of the images and heavy Flash and RIA-based (Rich Internet Application) content from the page to reduce the amount of content that has to load before the page load is complete and users can interact with the site.

Do you have additional suggestions to speed up your website? Have you noticed other holiday tricks?



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