Are you and your web store ready for the Holiday Shopping Rush?

December 11, 2013

As we get closer to the holiday shopping season, many web stores expect to see a significant increase in site traffic this month. Making sure that your sites are prepared to handle the holiday traffic, operate smoothly, and maintain the performance level you and your customers expect naturally becomes a top priority for e-tailers during this time of the year. Here are a few tips and best practices that can help you to further optimize the performance of your NetSuite web store(opens in new tab) for the upcoming holiday season:

  1. Less is "more." Avoid overwhelming shoppers with options by keeping the number of items per page to 20-25. Controlling the number of items per page can not only help reduce the page size and speed up the download of the page, but it can also increase conversion. Studies have found that more choices are not necessarily better. In fact, shoppers can get easily distracted by all of the options available and cause increase in abandonment rate. For instance, Barry Schwartz, the author of The Paradox of Choice(opens in new tab), gave the following example in his book. A gourmet food store had two displays of jams for tasting on two different days; one smaller display consisted of 6 types of jam, and one bigger display with 24 varieties of jam. In both cases, the numbers of jams that shoppers tasted were about the same; however, the smaller display had better conversion rates compared to the larger display: 30% of the tasters went ahead and purchased jam in the smaller display, while only 3% of the tasters bought in the larger display. The same can be applied to a web store. If you look at some of the well known e-tailer sites such as Amazon, Apple, Dell, or even search engines like Google and Yahoo, most of them keep the number of items per page under 25.

  2. Manage JavaScript and CSS wisely. Client-side scripts such as JavaScript and CSS can also impact the performance of your site. Proper and clever usage of JavaScript and CSS can help you further optimize the site performance.
    • If you have JavaScript and CSS components that are used across multiple pages of your site, consider moving them into a separate file (and store in the File Cabinet) instead of keeping them inline in those pages. Since JS and CSS files are cached by the browser, when you have multiple pages that share the same set of JS and CSS components, making them external can reduce page size without increasing the number of HTTP requests.
    • Simplify your JS and CSS code and avoid duplicate scripts – keep the code short and succinct. Reuse code whenever possible to reduce duplicates.
    • If you have scripts from a third party, such as live chat programs, analytics or affiliate marketing tracking tools, make sure to check with the script provider for the best practices of using the script to minimize impact on site performance. Most of the browsers prevent parallel downloads when downloading a script, meaning that while the browser is downloading a script, no other resources on the page can be downloaded at the same time. Therefore, ideally, scripts should be placed toward the bottom of the page. This way the browser can finish downloading other resources on the page before it starts to download the scripts. However, not all scripts can be placed toward the bottom of a page. Again, please check with the script provider for best practice. Also, try to minimize the number of third-party scripts on your site. Keep only the critical ones. In the past, we have seen sites slow down significantly (2-3 slower than normal) because of excessive use of third-party scripts. If you have scripts that you don't use anymore, make sure to remove them from your site. Last but not least, when adding third party scripts to your site, make sure to use HTTP requests on HTTP pages and HTTPS request on secure pages. Please see #4 for details.
  3. Optimize images. Take a closer look at images on your site, and see if you can compress them further without noticeable loss of quality. Save the images to the exact size you want them to be displayed on your site before uploading them to NetSuite(opens in new tab). This helps to eliminate the additional processing time required for resizing the image when rendering the page.

  4. Know when to use HTTP vs. HTTPS requests. Don't use HTTPS requests on HTTP pages if the referenced embedded objects don't contain sensitive data. HTTPS requests require multistage handshake with multiple roundtrips. This extra overhead can slow down the download of a page. Therefore, if it isn't necessarily, avoid using HTTPS request on HTTP pages and vice versa. When you include HTTP requests on secure pages, browsers generate a warning message and inform the end user that non-secure content is included in a secure page. This can have a negative impact on your customers' overall shopping experience. When requesting content stored in your NS File Cabinet, always use relative URL instead of absolute URL to avoid misuse of HTTP and HTTPS.

Hopefully you've enjoyed our first post on Ecommerce and find these tips and best practices helpful. We would love to hear your experiences and comments as well. The NetSuite Ecommerce(opens in new tab) team wishes you a wonderful and profitable holiday season!

NetSuite has packaged the experience gained from tens of thousands of worldwide deployments over two decades into a set of leading practices that pave a clear path to success and are proven to deliver rapid business value. With NetSuite, you go live in a predictable timeframe — smart, stepped implementations begin with sales and span the entire customer lifecycle, so there's continuity from sales to services to support.

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