UPDATED for 2021: How to Prep Magento for Peak Performance during the Holidays

UPDATED for 2021: How to Prep Magento for Peak Performance during the Holidays

Summer is flying by and it’s time to plan for the holiday shopping rush. As experienced Magento developers, we are very familiar with merchants turning to us for direction and help with how to get their sites ready for the holiday season. We’ve seen merchants experience 2/3 more traffic or process double (or triple) the number of transactions during November and December compared to the rest of the year.

Notably, the Magento Business Intelligence group found that merchants acquire up to 59% more customers during the holidays compared to the rest of the year. That’s a lot of new site traffic. Can your Magento site handle that big of an uptick in new visitors? With nearly 60% more new customers preparing to visit your website in a couple months, it would be smart to run performance tests now. 

Tip 1 – Page Load Speed Optimization

%

of shoppers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.

%

of shoppers abandon websites that take more than 3 seconds to load.

%

of shoppers who are dissatisfied with website performance are less likely to buy from the same site again.

Magento can be a very involved platform to work with. Most Magento instances are so customized that there is no other site exactly like another. That dynamic creates several potential points of failure if your code and server configuration are not optimized to work together. Module conflicts, unoptimized CSS/JS, and any potential server-side issues need to be identified and resolved. Unresolved code issues can cause major page speed performance issues and become detrimental during an otherwise very profitable time of the year.

If your site shows signs of performance issues and slow load times now, how will it perform during peak traffic times come November? It’s critical to perform site load tests before the real traffic influx begins. Contact your hosting company before performing any tests and work with them and your development team to identify any possible issues with server resources. 

It’s also important to note that page load times and user engagement metrics contribute to your PPC quality score. Those holiday PPC campaigns could take a hit if load times are poor. Key engagement metrics to monitor are bounce rate, time on page, time on site, and pages/session. A fast site will also help your PPC cost-per-click and impressions. In addition, we’ve also seen load times have a positive or a negative effect on SEO. Page load speed is critical across the board for the success of your site.

Tip 2 – UX/UI Optimization

Not only is site traffic at its peak during the holiday season, but customers’ tolerance and attention levels are low, as they tend to be in a hurry to complete their holiday shopping activities. Make your site easy to navigate and streamline the browsing experience for customers by removing conversion blockers. Bounce rates are naturally higher during the holidays as people quickly window shop and bargain hunt. Optimize poorly performing pages, ensure page load times are at their best, and keep your product offering up to date to avoid high bounce rates.

A quick way to optimize under-performing landing pages is to identify your lowest bounce rate landing page(s) in Google Analytics. Analyze those lowest bounce rate pages and try to find ways to improve engagement across your site. Of course a more thorough review of your shopping experience (complete with A/B tests) would be the most beneficial for optimization. However, there are valuable opportunities available for improvement that can be discovered through a Google analytics review.

The maintenance of products and pricing is also vital.

    • Keep catalog images, product descriptions, prices, inventory, and shipping rates clear and updated. 
    • Ensure your pricing is competitive. Have import/export templates set up so you can easily update pricing on the fly. That way, you’re not scrambling when a competitor suddenly has a flash sale. 
    • Make sure your strongest products (best selling, best price, or highest inventory) are easy to find for customers on your category and landing pages. 
    • In addition, make sure your upsell, cross sell and related products are all set up and relevant to each other.

Don’t Ignore Mobile Traffic

Magento can be a very involved platform to work with. Most Magento instances At least a third of your traffic during the holidays is going to be from mobile devices. Mobile sales will account for more than half in most retail industries. Perform a thorough, unbiased review of your mobile shopping experience from the homepage down through the checkout process. Remove any conversion blockers, consolidate any redundant pages or steps in the checkout. Do not mark any checkout fields as required unless they really are required. Finally, make sure chatbot and email sign-up pop-ups are disabled on mobile!

Tip 3 – Security Optimization

Site security is also critical for overall site performance during the holidays and always. If your Magento site isn’t upgraded to the latest version or is missing Security Patches, you are at risk for security issues. We’ve encountered several merchants over the last year or so who have ignored security or bug patches. Or, merchants have severely delayed the upgrading of their Magento sites. By ignoring Magento Security Patches or avoiding updates, merchants are opening themselves up to a much larger problem. Problems like legal indemnification since many maintain publicly that they are PCI compliant while leaving gaping security holes in their site’s infrastructure. 

Beyond the cost and headache of what a data breach could do, merchants could lose a solid portion of customers. In fact, 31% of customers terminated their relationship with a targeted business after a breach was discovered. No merchant wants to be the next Target fail. Make sure your Magento site is upgraded or patched as soon as possible.

Tip 4 – Review and Test

It’s important to be proactive about performance testing to be prepared well in advance of holiday traffic. Merchants need to test the shopping experience on their site.  Be sure that the browsing process, shopping cart and checkout is a seamless experience for your customers.  

Review your site analytics. Verify that key engagement metrics such as bounce rate, time on page, time on site, and pages/session are performing well. Look for dips in data and bottlenecks. Pull data from the prior holiday season. Review what issues you had and where your site could improve. In addition, note what worked well for your site and look for ways to improve based on positive metrics. Analyzing your own data can save a lot of time and solve a lot of puzzles when it comes to customer experience and site performance issues.

Run perform load tests and user-based browsing tests to make sure your site is ready for any expected (and unexpected) traffic spikes. Performance tests and implementation can be a test and tune process. We’ve worked with merchants with complicated, and not so complicated, infrastructures. It can take time to locate the cause of issues and bottlenecks. Sometimes “simple” tasks can cause hiccups that take time to diagnose and find the ideal configuration. Performance tests need to be conducted long before the holidays to be successful and in place before the traffic picks up.

Get started now – or very soon.

If you are missing patches or haven’t reviewed your analytics in a while, don’t fret. Merchants still have time to get started on performance testing to get an idea of what they will need to have in place come October and November. Contact us to learn more about performance testing options or to get help with your UX/UI optimization. Or, give us a call to talk to a Magento expert: 513-469-3345.

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Magento Imagine 2012 – Top Takeaways

Magento Imagine 2012 – Top Takeaways

I think everyone who attended would agree that Magento Imagine 2012 was a fantastic event.

While I did my best to cram my brain with every insightful and useful bit of information, the following items for me were the highlights.

  1. “People, Product, Profit … In that order” – Jim Fitzgibbon
  2. Responsive Design for Magento (one design, any device) – Brendan Falkowski (view presentation)
  3. Yes, Magento can scale – Daniel Potzinger (view presentation)

Jim Fitzgibbon told us how a culture of “”People, Product, Profit” propelled Four Seasons from being a small chain of hotels with 3 locations in Canada to a international first-class resort empire.  Four Seasons even goes so far as to invite their competition to come interview folks they are forced to layoff. “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” and “trust your employees”…this advise is highly valuable to anyone wishing to keep their top talent around and I’ve seen it work just was well for programmers as I’m sure it does for hotel staff.

With the proliferation of devices website are now viewed on, responsive design allows sites to simply respond to the display constraints of any device.  So instead of building apps or device specific websites, sites that are built using responsive design work for all devices no matter what the constraint.  Brendan, sign me up to buy your first Responsive Magento theme…I’m sold.

Daniel Potzinger showed us how a Magento installation leveraging the hosting power of Amazon EC2 can process 5,000 simultaneous requests while maintaining a overall affordable hosting cost….one word…sweet.

Checkout out the pictures wall

Do You Know How to Find Customers Online?

Do You Know How to Find Customers Online?

At InteractOne, we hear this question pretty frequently from frustrated business owners who have previously spent thousands of dollars building websites without knowing where their customers are online. Without this knowledge, targeting customers is virtually impossible. Just as you wouldn’t drive to a new vacation spot without your GPS, you shouldn’t develop a website by blundering about and hoping that you get there eventually. Fortunately, knowing how to find customers online is something that InteractOne excels at doing.  

“If you build it, he will come.” – Shoeless Joe Jackson, Field of Dreams. While the quote may apply to mystically-inspired baseball fields being constructed in Iowa corn fields, it doesn’t necessarily apply to your website. There are approximately 4.71 billion indexed web pages (worldwidewebsize.com). This doesn’t include the non-indexed pages that the search engines can’t reach. That’s why the professionals at InteractOne specialize in helping companies identify and find their customers and learn about their behavior before building a new website.

Finding Your Customers – A Focused Strategy

Just like detectives, the experienced team at InteractOne engages in a fact finding mission before beginning work on a website. We identify the answers to the questions of “Who, What, Where, How, and When” and then we custom build our marketing campaigns around those answers. By leveraging our expertise and the relevant data, we can efficiently target and reach the ideal markets for your products or services. The end result of all this work? We build websites that see a significantly higher return on investment via sales conversions and increased site visits, not to mention increased brand awareness than sites without a targeted audience and strategy. At InteractOne, we know how to find your ideal customers and get them to your site.

Do you have more questions about how to find customers online or developing a new strategy to locate them? Then contact us using our form or call us today at 513.469.7042 from 8 AM to 6 PM EST for a free consultation.

Magento Shopping Cart Development from InteractOne

Magento Shopping Cart Development from InteractOne

Imagine for moment that you’ve decided to open a brick and mortar retail shop. Consider the steps that you would take in order to launch the store and drive new sales. Initiating a Magento shopping cart is in many ways the same.  You must develop:

  • A target market
  • Branding – logo and message
  • Product mix (inventory)
  • Pricing
  • Promotion

Magento is the world’s most powerful eCommerce platform. It is a highly flexible and feature-rich system, helping online retailers specifically tailor their branding, product mix, pricing and promotion to suit their target market.

A problem that many Magento site owners run into is that they don’t fully understand the true potential and complexity of Magento’s selling tools.  Magento’s administration interface is versatile and powerful and it maintains a relatively steep learning curve with little in the way of formalized training resources. As a result, Magento site owners don’t take full advantage of the available tools, often to the site’s detriment.

This is why InteractOne offers easy-to-understand product support and training for Magento store owners.  Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced Magento administrator, we can help you fully understand and take advantage of Magento’s powerful selling tools. Together with those tools, you can leverage your knowledge into a thriving eCommerce site.

Trust the Magento Shopping Cart Experts

As Magento’s second oldest partner, we have an in-house team of Magento certified developers and front end programmers to bring your website vision to life. We’re so good that we are one of Magento’s four worldwide development trainers. We have PMI-certified Project Professionals on staff to help ensure that your site development runs smoothly. Site support stays on-shore as well. If you need help, your call is handled by a representative in our Ohio office. Do you need marketing assistance promoting your site? We offer a full range of Internet marketing services.

Contact the experts at InteractOne for more information about a Magento shopping cart or Magento training by clicking here or calling 513.437.2983.

Contact Us today receive more information about our Magento Support and Training programs.

Content Management Strategy

Content Management Strategy

Content Management System - Twiki

Where are your corporate document assets (standard operating procedures,  research findings, efficiency reports ….)?

Odds are they’re hiding in word documents or PDFs buried in folders nested 10 categories deep on a internal network server that can only be accessed from within the office network and never gets backed up.  I know…sounds like a worst case scenario but you’d be surprised at just how many companies find themselves in this position.  While this situation often suites IT departments just fine (it’s easy to manage and secure) it can be very costly to your organization in the long term.

Information assets are the equivalent of corporate gold and should be:

  • secure
  • permission level provisioned
  • readily available
  • well categorized
  • easily searched

Enter TWiki® – the Open Source Enterprise Wiki and Web 2.0 Application Platform

A flexible, powerful, and easy to use enterprise wiki, enterprise collaboration platform, and web application platform. It is a Structured Wiki, typically used to run a project development space, a document management system, a knowledge base, or any other groupware tool, on an intranet, extranet or the Internet. Users without programming skills can create web applications. Developers can extend the functionality of TWiki with Plugins. TWiki fosters information flow within an organization, lets distributed teams work together seamlessly and productively, and eliminates the one-webmaster syndrome of outdated intranet content. http://twiki.org/

We’ve been using and installing TWiki for 2 years now and while we’ve yet to migrate all of our corporate documents off of the office server – “dinosaur”  in the closet – we can’t imagine going a day without our TWiki.   The ability to search our documents online, collaborate and easily add new content based on login permission is just wonderful.

While TWiki type technology has mostly been the privy of large organizations, small to medium sized companies should also consider the great benefits of a corporate Wiki.  The costs are surprisingly low (especially if you go with an open source solution) and information is easily secured and provisionalable based on login credentials.

Contact Us today to find out how you can get started with a TWiki install.