Getting your WebSphere Commerce store ready for the holidays
jwbarnes 06000271DW Visits (5201)
If you are not thinking about the holidays and you are running an eCommerce site, you better start thinking soon. Its best to prepare and test now instead of a wait and see approach. Get planning your readiness schedule now, so that you can lock down the system in November and be ready to ride the wave through to the end of the year. This way you can hopefully keep your customers happy and the revenue flowing.
You will want to start by reviewing this part of the information center Preparing Commerce for Peak Shopping Periods.
This starts with making sure you have required fixes installed. Doing this will help save time and troubleshooting by reducing the number of issues that are already solved in the product. Additionally if you apply those fixes now, you have time to allow your system to settle and see if you run into any additional issues. It's no sense leaving yourself open to vulnerabilities if they have already been solved; reap the rewards of new fixes.
Next you will want to examine if your server is capable of the increased traffic. You are keeping track of your traffic aren't you? If not start now so you can at least see what the current traffic is. Then you need to use this as a base against your performance tuning environment. See how it performs, then start ramping up the rate and see what kind increase in traffic you can handle. If your site cannot handle at least a 20% increase over your current traffic then things could go badly for the site. Now is the time to realize this and and do something about it. I would recommend you be able to handle an upswing of 30% if not more, and also to find out where your breaking point is.
Then you will want to think about when to deploy your last custom code before the holidays. Hopefully its not November 20th. You want to plan for this and give your code a chance to settle and work out all the bugs. This goes the same for your marketing and promotions. Make sure to fully test those you want to be live, don't be turning them on and hoping they all work the way you expect. Make sure you know they will.
Now is also a good time to reach out to IBM and the sales team for your account. Make sure you confer with them about any information they might have and just lay the groundwork for the holiday time. Also know your escalation points now so you are not having to scramble for numbers if you need additional focus on issues.
Examine your system to ensure you are ready to decrease troubleshooting time. By this I mean, do you know where your logs are? Do you know how to enable trace (Do all off-shift people know this)? Do you know where all the files pertinent to your instance configuration are? Do you know where to find the nifstack.xml? Having this information handy when you open a problem record (PMR) or service request (SR) can decrease the amount of time IBM needs to A) request information, B) look through possible solutions. Also if you can install IBM Support Assistant (ISA) automated log collection and use that to submit the zip package after opening the PMR, that can greatly reduce the amount of time to problem resolution.
It's time to start planning and thinking about this now. Take a look at the metrics from last years holiday season from Coremetrics 2011 Holiday Review. I see some interesting trends to point out and review. Online sales increased 33% year over year, can your environment handle that? Mobile traffic was at least 10% last year, and given the trends in tablets this year will most likely be higher. How does your site perform with mobile devices, have you tested them yet? You don't want your potential customers going elsewhere because they cannot complete an order in the mobile device. Remember people are not just shopping on Cyber Monday, they are browsing on black Friday as well. Very possible that they are comparison shopping while in stores, or before heading out, but you still have to handle this increase in traffic.
Plan now, reach out to your account team, and have a successful holiday season!