It is important to test e-commerce websites to see how your system performs under a particular load, how quickly product pages will load, see how it will handle traffic spikes and find potential performance bottlenecks. So that it won’t compromise on various crucial factors such as user experience, customer trust, quick load time… Thereby, you can give your customers a nice and enjoyable experience on your e-commerce website.

You may have heard that the holiday season or mega sale is approaching. Right?

If you’re working for a B2C company, there’s a good chance this is a busy time of year for you, and you’re expecting more web traffic than usual. Most of the customers were left disgruntled as stocks were limited, orders got mysteriously canceled and the website, which was unable to handle the huge surge in visitors, crashed several times. Unfortunately, those occasions can be extremely costly, hurting your bottom line. Today, we will discuss why performance tests are necessary and a crucial part of the software testing life cycle.


What is the performance testing for?

As we all know, the e-commerce website has become a global trend nowadays, it plays an important part in most of the sectors of the retail industry. It has also become the core elements in the business plan. Different from other websites, the e-commerce website needs to allow flexible and secure payments with many methods (VISA, MASTER, ATM, CHECK, PayPal, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay…) and other support services such as customer support, logistics, and transportation. Any transactions and payment can perform easily through a secure gateway from anywhere in the world. It’s not just only about your shopping cart and checkout process though. The rest of your website should load quickly as well. This means home pages, landing pages, product pages, your blog content, and more. Studies show that if a website takes more than four seconds to load, the user will leave and go elsewhere.

The stability of the e-commerce website depends on various conditions, one of them is the number of users to make transactions within a specific period of time on the website. So if there are too many users use the system at the same time, the loading speed of the website needs to be considered in order to avoid the risks in payment transactions, user experience, and customer trust.

In brief, performance tests reveal how a system behaves and responds during various situations, giving the user the website information such as the speed, stability, and scalability. A system may run very well with only 1,000 concurrent users, but how would it run with 100,000? In terms of performance, we wish to achieve high speed, scalability, and stability of the system. More important, check the performance will explore what needs to be improved before release the product to market. If not, the reputation of the products, the people responsible for building that product development will be affected, more importantly, the sales will be affected.

Why is performance testing important?

The performance of the e-commerce site is very important for the success of your business. Just about 250 milliseconds delay page loading time can make your customers reach your competitor. According to the survey by Harris, 46% 2015 shoppers said that they would never return to the site slowly and will look to buy on other websites.

Besides the hardware system, the user experience is a key factor in the success of e-commerce websites.

Each system, depending on the specific objectives in the organization that the level of performance tests will vary, but it must be checked thoroughly to ensure that the system can operate in a long time without discrepancies occur. In summary, performance testing will bring up the typical benefits such as:

  • Prevent the case may lead to failure in the handling of the system
  • Make sure the features and functions operate effectively in the real environment
  • Collect the data useful to adjust the system.
  • Reduced system development time, reduce infrastructure costs.
  • Provide reports to clients and stakeholders about current performance compared to what they expected.

Hence, performance testing is very important.

Performance Testing – The top priority in an E-commerce website.

The speed is usually one of the most important attributes of a website. When a certain website is running slow, it will cause the feeling of disappointment in the users, by the time the feedback expected by users is usually a second for a web page any. Therefore, the website will have the risk of losing potential users if it does not meet the minimum period of time. Website visitors hate delays and in the short term, not just page load time affect the conversion rate and website visitors that it’s also great to influence search engine rankings on Google.


The research shows that increasing a second (<= 2 seconds) in page load time can cause almost lost 7% in converting customers, lost more than 11% of page views and the satisfaction level of customers fell to 16%. And this translates into real money – if your site earns 10,000 dollars a day, you will lose 2.5 million dollars each year because of this 1 second.

The website load slowly, then the user experience will also be affected. Moreover, there has been an experiment concerning about this problem on MOZ as a website loads slowly then the website rankings are affected, whether the website content is good or how the useful information for users, Google also can not rank your website high due to slow in loading web page.


Not incidentally, that studies have shown the relationship between views-revenue with the speed shown by the web page. A case study at Cloud Living, site visitor engagement improved by 19% (average session duration, see image) after site speed optimization.

views-revenue with the speed shown by the web page

Faster site = More page visits per session and longer session duration (Cloud

In short, page load time not only affects search rankings, it also impacts greatly on conversion rate and visitors reach. Most importantly, the faster the website, the more revenue it will generate.

Sites that load fastest have a competitive advantage. Since everything on the internet is just a click away, it is vital to have quick load times to keep customers on your site and not your competitor’s. “Two hundred and fifty milliseconds, either slower or faster, is close to the magic number for competitive advantage on the Web.” Harry Shum, Executive Vice President of Technology and Research, Microsoft.

The focus of performance testing is to identify:

  • Speed – determines whether or not the quick-response website
  • Scalability-determine the maximum load that website software can handle.
  • Stability-determine whether the website has stabilized under the different loads or not

Performance testing is really necessary for ensuring the system run fast enough and does not cause discomfort when used to retain users.

So, when can we test the performance for e-commerce websites?

When taking into account the performance of existing systems or ones built from scratch, teams have to determine at what point in the development process they are going to benefit most from running performance tests.

Performance testing can be implemented from the beginning of the project at the development stage (agile method) or after the website has been completed (waterfall method). The way to choose the method depends on the project team, the technologies, and procedures, and what you need to do. It is important to have testers with both the proper soft and hard skills for performance testing. You also have to take into consideration which tools to use when load testing (i.e., JMeter, BlazeMeter, Gatling, etc.) and monitoring both on the server side (i.e., New Relic, NMON, perfmon, etc.) as well as the client side (with tools like Monkop, Page Speed, Yslow,, etc.).

So, which option is right for you? Well, it depends on what your desired outcome is. We should start early by doing performance engineering and we also need to simulate load for acceptance testing. Catching problems early costs less than fixing them at the end of the development lifecycle. That’s what we should aim for.

What to Test?

The first step to performance testing begins with understanding what to test. When load testing is being done for an existing website or an existing website is being updated, a good point to start is by looking at web analytics to identify traffic patterns. When load testing a brand new site, traffic analytics can be done by reaching out to a third party traffic source. Some other questions to ask while load testing are:

  • How do different kinds of traffic, such as anonymous and authenticated users etc., affect site performance?
  • What are users doing on the site (mostly browsing, mostly buying, etc.)?
  • Are there any logical groupings present?
  • Are transactional flows being processed without glitches?
  • Identifying caching layers to see how traffic is getting to the website

Steps to assess the performance of your E-commerce website:

  1. Get real usage of your website and expected visitors in the next period (have in mind any special deals your site may start promoting, email campaigns or other future marketing campaigns that are going to bring more traffic to your web application)
  2. Identify the location of your visitors in order to create real life testing scenarios
  3. Start small, and create a baseline test for your load testing metrics: monitor response time, latency time, number of hits per second, the throughput of your website and if any errors that appeared, find here more details about load testing metrics.

Most Common Problems Observed in Performance Testing

During performance testing of software, developers are looking for performance symptoms and issues. Speed issues — slow responses and long load times for example — often are observed and addressed. But there are other performance problems that can be observed:

  • Bottlenecking — This occurs when data flow is interrupted or halted because there is not enough capacity to handle the workload.
  • Poor scalability — If software cannot handle the desired number of concurrent tasks, results could be delayed, errors could increase, or other unexpected behavior could happen that affects:
    • Disk usage
    • CPU usage
    • Memory leaks
    • Operating system limitations
    • Poor network configuration
  • Software configuration issues — Often settings are not set at a sufficient level to handle the workload.
  • Insufficient hardware resources — Performance testing may reveal physical memory constraints or low-performing CPUs.


In short, performance testing should be a major priority before releasing software or an application. It should be implemented early on in development so as to catch more bugs earlier and increase user satisfaction while saving you time and money down the line.

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