Business Blog With commercetools managing your traffic peaks, this Black Friday, do the unthinkable – relax!

commercetools author image Stephanie Wittmann
Stephanie Wittmann
October 2021

Imagine having the most laid-back Black Friday ever.

No crashes. No glitches. No downtime. You can just sit back and relax while watching your company’s sales increase. Everything that needs to happen for your website to keep up with customer demand is automatically occurring in the background. Well, if you have commercetools powering your backend, that’s exactly the Black Friday (and every other big shopping day) experience you can expect.

business blog managing your traffic peaks this black friday

How scalability issues can cost you

You might be thinking that Black Friday comes around only once a year, so what’s the point of migrating to a completely new commerce platform? But online shopping spikes are occurring far more often than just the traditional high-octane shopping days. Though the holiday season tends to bring a surge in shopping and associated traffic volume to online and offline commerce, the post-pandemic era purchasing behavior in the last 18 months highlights a significant shift toward high-volume online purchases year-round. 

In this digital day and age, speed and instant gratification is crucial to shoppers. They are quick to turn to alternatives offered by the competition when they are unable to access products and transact with a business when their website goes down. When this happens, businesses stand to lose millions of dollars.

What causes website downtime?

For online retailers, the thought of Black Friday is usually met with stress and anxiety, with weeks of preparation for IT departments leading up to the big event. Then the inevitable happens: your web shop crashes and panic ensues. This is because many legacy platforms boast about their measures to minimize downtime. But that’s not good enough. Why put up with any downtime at all? Downtime must be eliminated completely in order to take away the possibility of losing sales and revenue. And legacy platforms simply can’t deliver.

All-in-one suites do not have the capacity to handle spikes in traffic loads, meaning you are always on the edge of your seat waiting for your web shop to go down on major shopping days – and then put into high-pressure situations where all you can do is damage control. This is a result of  legacy platforms suffering from poor infrastructure that cannot scale their resources. Their unautomated processes are only reactive, rather preventative, to try and ensure uptime. What’s more, legacy suites have a poor technical setup of their platforms and features due to extensions and additional features being slapped together in a “hacky” way.    

How commercetools architecture scales for peaks

The answer to all the failings of legacy platforms when it comes to scaling for peaks (and everything else) is commercetools. Being modern and efficient, commercetools doesn’t add any unnecessary load to websites so they always perform optimally, which means online retailers never have to add additional resources when Black Friday is coming up. How does commercetools do it? By being API-first, headless and cloud-native.

As an API-first solution, commercetools applies different APIs for individual functions – so some APIs will only apply to the catalog, or only apply to checkout, or only apply to discounts and so forth. So, websites that use commercetools won’t go down due to overloading the system because users who are doing a lot of browsing or looking at several catalog pages have no effect on website performance. In contrast, legacy vendors can lag on search and product catalog, which can then negatively impact checkout. 

Being headless, the frontend only calls the APIs in the backend that it needs for the request at hand, not the entire experience. And with commercetools being built in the cloud – whereas legacy vendors are on the cloud and, therefore, have no access to auto-scaling –  the platform naturally scales up or down depending on the load of the system, meaning commercetools scales automatically when there are traffic peaks due to seasonal business or marketing campaigns. Additionally, commercetools' usage of GraphQL minimizes requests required to get the necessary data, which reduces resource usage and server load.

Hear it from commercetools customers

One of the main reasons why many Fortune 2000 companies choose commercetools is because we give them peace of mind should they launch a promotion or find that a product is suddenly in high demand. That's because we enable companies to manage huge volumes of traffic at a global scale. Speakers at this year's Modern Commerce Day advocated for commercetools for this very reason. 

Greg Fancher, Chief Technology Officer at Express, shared a story of an overly aggressive promotion that went viral:

We saw a spike in traffic that was over 3x higher than the busiest hour of Black Friday. Its peak was more than 10% of all commercetools transactions in that hour. If this would have happened with our monolith system, the system would have crashed, we would have lost sales and spent hours bringing the system back online. With commercetools, we first noticed the situation when we got alerts that our systems were autoscaling. We carefully watched the business, and our customers didn’t notice a blip.
Greg Fancher

Chief Technology Officer, Express

Over at The LEGO Group, Simon Young, Senior Engineering Director – Unified Commerce, explained how LEGO’s platform went from being able to handle seven orders per second to 35 after their migration to commercetools:

When we introduced the Collector's edition Star Wars Millennium Falcon Set in September 2017, our site went down during the UK launch and the US launch. In the end, we managed 7 orders per second. With our MACH platform in place, we introduced 100 new products on January 1, 2020. Traffic was crazy. We logged 35 orders per second, 2,000 orders per minute.
Simon Young

Senior Engineering Director – Unified Commerce, The LEGO Group

Harry Rosen launched their digital platform, which is now their biggest store, at the peak of the pandemic and reported 0% downtime despite their online business increasing by three times and experiencing a 150% increase in page views per session:

Through holiday and the biggest periods and peaks we’ve ever had – there’s been zero downtime. That’s one of the most exciting things – that it is truly built to scale.
Ian Rosen

SVP, Digital Strategy, Harry Rosen

Do you want to experience a relaxing Black Friday? Try our completely free, fully functional 60-day trial to see first-hand how commercetools handles traffic peaks.

commercetools author image Stephanie Wittmann
Stephanie Wittmann
October 2021

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