Each year Black Friday poses an ever-increasing challenge to ecommerce businesses. This year’s Black Friday will bring even more turmoil according to Adobe’s 2018 online shopping predictions forecast of $5.9B revenue and a growth rate of 17.2% over last year. The report also forecasts $124 Billion in U.S. online sales this holiday season, with a rise of 14.8% over last year. And 44% of shoppers will do their holiday shopping on big days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Nearly one dollar of every six spent on retail purchases will take place online this year.
Can you imagine the online traffic influx and the damage it could do to your site’s response rate, availability and ultimately your business if you are not prepared? Research shows while the frontend web traffic might increase 2x to 4x, the load on the backend systems measured in orders/min might increase 10x or more. Similar to last year, the hours between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. will be the busiest on the weekends, with 4:00 p.m. being the peak. This timing holds true for Black Friday as well.
The below figure shows a typical increase in user traffic. The traffic is characterized by a sudden, variable spike to peak traffic followed by a gradual return to normal.
The Cost of Downtime
Every year, at least one retailer’s website crashes under the strain of a digital stampede. Traffic surge on Amazon Prime Day 2018 buckled the servers and lead to hours of glitches when eager shoppers received error messages due to overwhelming site traffic. The problem lasted about two hours. Analytics provider One Click Retail estimates that Amazon lost $1.2 million in sales per minute of downtime.
Website crashes during peak times result in lost revenue, customer frustration and negative brand reputation. A sure way to handle extreme traffic peaks is to have the right infrastructure in place that ensures continued low latency extreme performance as traffic peaks. But how does one do that?
Customer Success Story – PriceRunner, a Leading Price Comparison Service Gets Ready for 10X Increase in Traffic
PriceRunner is a leading price comparison site in the Nordics and UK which provides consumers impartial, real time information on where to find the best deals. To be able to provide price updates without compromising performance and speed, PriceRunner needed a solution that powered extreme transactional processing—the ability to process prices from 18,000 different merchants and 4.4 million unique visitors per month – especially even during moments of peak demand.
GigaSpaces In-Memory Computing Platform proved to be the perfect choice for ensuring real-time comparisons for customers especially at high peak periods such as the night before Black Friday when traffic surges by 10X. The always-on In-Memory Computing Platform provides a load-balanced environment that can flexibly and quickly scale out when necessary to ensure scalability, availability, low latency and high performance.
Using GigaSpaces solutions to buffer peak load access to shared data resources
- Typical eCommerce systems have shared data resources for managing their information. Putting the shared data resources in-memory provides faster and more efficient (parallel) access to this shared data.
- Data is mirrored back into the database in batches. In this way, peak load transactions are buffered so that database traffic does not crash the database back-end.
- Avoid sticky sessions with the ability to call any application server and have both its read-type (product lookup) and write-type (shopping cart allocation) operations available consistently from any application server.
- The In-Memory computing grid acts as a system of record. Failure in the underlying database can be saved without affecting the online users while the database is restored to a working state.
- Using a combination of In-Memory & SSD allows very large In-Memory data sets to be stored at a reasonable cost, while still ensuring fast recovery during failure.
- Failures are inevitable: Keeping a backup copy in-memory enables zero-downtime systems to service user traffic without interruption, even if something does go wrong.
- Systems provisioned for failure handle failure by design.
- Automatic failover and provisioning eliminate the need to overprovision (costly) resources in case of failure. Traditionally, it’s common for retailers to provision resources for holiday season that is 5+ times the capacity of non-holiday traffic infrastructure.
Powering Business In-The-Moment
Fast response, high availability and making sense of the huge volumes of data generated by your customers can help you take advantage of the peak retail season. According to digital performance measurement firm Dynatrace, just a half second difference in page load times can make a 10% difference in sales for an online retailer.
The transaction window makes real-time analytics especially important, because it encourages organizations to act quickly and decisively to avoid squandering the opportunity.
But “NOW” customers require both speed and personalization; and modern in-memory real-time analytics Platforms, such as the GigaSpaces InsightEdge, are a solution for running real-time AI and ML models on data as it’s born; enriching the data with historical context. The insights from the data are fed instantly into the business logic for immediate impact.
“Based on our successful deployment with GigaSpaces, we are looking towards enhancing our services with advanced analytics”, said Roger Forsberg, CTO with PriceRunner. “Innovation is a key tenant of our strategy, and adoption of GigaSpaces InsightEdge real-time machine learning technology will highly differentiate our services by enabling us to run advanced analytics models on our hot data and instantly predict prices to improve the customer experience.”
InsightEdge: Unifying Real-Time Analytics, AI and Operational Processing in single-tier Platform
InsightEdge contains all the necessary SQL, Spark, Streaming, and Deep Learning toolkits for scalable data-driven solutions. The platform offers ultra-low latency, high-throughput transaction and stream processing, and co-location of applications and analytics to act on time-sensitive data – data as it is born- at millisecond performance. It’s fast. Increasingly business are turning to GigaSpaces InsightEdge Platform as the perfect choice for many large-scale retailers.
Plan ahead to handle a Black Friday-scale spike. Learn how GigaSpaces can help retailers prevent downtime more effectively. Download our Business Continuity case study.