Welcome!

Machine Learning Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Zakia Bouachraoui, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Machine Learning , Agile Computing, @CloudExpo, @DXWorldExpo

Microservices Expo: Article

Part 3 | Five Steps to Improve E-Commerce Performance for Increased Sales

Network Performance

This is the third episode of the mini-series on e-commerce performance management. Our client TescaraHats (name changed for commercial reasons), a European market leader in manufacturing customized hats, did not achieve the expected sales increase with its new e-commerce site. It offered its customers the ability to customize and order hats online instead of visiting its brick and mortar locations, but customers seemed disinterested. TescaraHats learned quickly that there is much more to an e-commerce platform than simply putting an e-commerce service online.

In previous posts we showed that increasing page rank is not the only way to boost sales and that checking and improving back-end performance of your e-commerce is also critical. In this episode we show why you should not keep network load and HTTP errors in check.

Avoid Unnecessary Network Load
Although broadband connection is now a commodity and many Internet users can stream HD videos online from rental services like Netflix, you should still keep the size and the download time of a web site in check. In order to maximize the usability of your site, you should ensure it loads quickly. This is true on mobile devices as well because mobile e-commerce (a.k.a. m-commerce) is said to be taking over the market share.

To begin, check how much time is spent on the network to complete each page. Longer network time, as seen in Figure 1, may indicate that you are pushing unnecessarily heavy content to the client, or the server is busy generating (on the fly) some non-HTML components of the page.

Figure 1: Avoid unnecessary network load: check operation time breakdown and number of hits

Next, make sure your site is properly cached. If a web browser needs to download the same content over and over, even if the page is not too heavy, the footprint of your whole site becomes a burden for returning visitors or those who spend more time on the site.

Figure 2: The speed of the web report tells you if your site is too heavy or the cache is not properly optimized

The report in Figure 1 shows an inflated hits per operation ratio, which may mean that the content is not properly cached. Figure 2 shows a report from the Speed of the Web service, which was used to analyze TescaraHats e-commerce site. The report aligns with findings reported in Figure 1: the caching is not properly configured. Figure 3 shows a similar report from the perspective of images served from TescaraHats site. Both reports indicate that there are too many resources, e.g., images and JavaScript files, served from the same domain.

Figure 3: Analyze the images which need to be downloaded with e-commerce pages to see if you can reduce their number or size, or both

Although the bandwidth of the network connection is usually not a problem these days, the web browsers can only open a limited number of parallel connections. When the page consists of too many items, the site is unable to download them all at once. Figure 4 illustrates the problem with a page sequence load step chart report.

Figure 4: Too many page components cannot be downloaded in parallel, they affect the complete page load time

To solve the network load problem you need to:

  • Make sure all static content is properly cached.
  • Make sure all JavaScript files are combined and compressed into (ideally) one; same goes for CSS files.
  • Try to serve images of higher quality to size ratio; if possible combine smaller images into one and use the CSS sprites technique.
  • Use content delivery networks (CDN) to serve your static content.

Keep Control of HTTP Errors
Sometimes users mistype the URL and end up with a 404 error page. Additionally, sometimes your software may fail and the user will see a HTTP 500 error page. Users have become accustomed to seeing some funny and useful versions of these error pages.

Web developers often forget to ensure that there are no back-end calls that end up with an error. In many cases users will not be aware that those errors even happened, but it does not mean that those errors have no impact on the users. In fact, the calls that end up with an HTTP error not only contribute to the higher network time, but may also indicate application performance problems.

Figure 5 presents a part of report from the Speed of the Web service that shows time lost on handling HTTP 500 errors at TescaraHats.

Figure 5: There are too many HTTP errors reported by your e-commerce site

If your APM tool shows there are HTTP errors: in most cases you need to talk to your developers.

Make Sure You Care About Your Users
When you are certain about your e-commerce back-end performance, decreased unnecessary network load and made sure there are no HTTP errors behind the scenes, it's time to focus on your users who will soon swarm to visit your site. Read the next episode of our series to learn how to make your customers happy.

More Stories By Sebastian Kruk

Sebastian Kruk is a Technical Product Strategist, Center of Excellence, at Compuware APM Business Unit.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


CloudEXPO Stories
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or personal computing needs.
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by researching target group and involving users in the designing process.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to advisory roles at startups. He has worked extensively on monetization, SAAS, IoT, ecosystems, partnerships and accelerating growth in new business initiatives.
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like "How is my application doing" but no idea how to get a proper answer.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed by some of the world's largest financial institutions. The company develops and applies innovative machine-learning technologies to big data to predict financial, economic, and world events. The team is a group of passionate technologists, mathematicians, data scientists and programmers in Silicon Valley with over 100 patents to their names. Big Data Federation was incorporated in 2015 and is ...