Getting Your Site Ready for Cyber Monday: How to Use Incapsula to Optimize E-commerce Sites

Cyber Monday online sales topped $2 billion for the first time in 2013, coming in at $2.29 billion another important milestone for the newest shopping holiday. By comparison, online sales for the elder Black Friday were a little more than half, at $1.2 billion.

With so much revenue at stake, e-commerce sites must be performing at their best. After all, every minute on December 1 is worth at least $1.6 million in sales. If your e-store is down or slow for even a short period, potential customers are likely to take their business elsewhere.

Though the date is fast approaching, it’s not too late to optimize your e-store for the holiday rush. Let’s walk through how Incapsula can help you stay on top of your game come Cyber Monday and on through the remaining holiday season.

Accelerating Performance with Caching and Content Optimization

Accelerating e-commerce sites with Incapsula involves two basic strategies: optimizing the cache settings on our content delivery network (CDN) so your content reaches your customers as quickly as possible, and optimizing your web content for speedy rendering in your customer’s browser once it gets there. Let’s look at both.

Content Caching

Caching is a complex topic, but here these four basic techniques can be automatically enabled so there is little work required on the part of a web operations or e-commerce team.

  • Static Content Caching
    Incapsula caches your static content, such as HTML files, images, and JavaScript resources, so it can always be served directly from the closest point of presence (PoP) within our network of 22 globally-distributed data centers-.
  • Dynamic Content Caching Incapsula’s advanced learning algorithm continuously profiles your website resources, gathering intelligence on how they are actually used by your customers. Some of your resources, which may be dynamically-generated, rarely change over time for most users. Incapsula uses this intelligence to cache these typically non-cachable resources to significantly improve your overall cache utilization.
  • Serving Pages from Memory The same advanced learning algorithm identifies the most frequently-accessed resources. Bypassing the file system and other generic mechanisms such as a buffer cache, they are served directly from physical memory.
  • Client-Side Caching Client-side caching ensures instant loading of resources and the best possible user experience. Incapsula optimizes client-side caching by making sure that as much of your content as possible is cached on your customers’ browsers or mobile devices. Based on the same advanced algorithms used for dynamic caching, we enrich browser caching instructions while also setting an optimal refresh policy, so all of your cached content remains fresh.Note: Our Purge Cache option lets you purge your entire site, or a specific resource, on Incapsula’s server to immediately update new content in the cache. You might use this to make a quick change to a mispriced or out-of-stock item, for example.

Content and Network Optimization

Incapsula uses a number of content optimization techniques to accelerate performance and minimize latency.

Code minification shrinks the size of your HTML, JavaScript, and CSS resources by automatically removing all unnecessary characters. And by reducing the size of transmitted images, image compression improves performance without degrading image quality. Additionally, session optimization reduces the initial connection time by intelligently managing the number of open server connections.

These are just few of the many available Incapsula options. To make them work for you, and to discover additional acceleration options, open your Incapsula dashboard and turn on those sales enhancers you want. All are available via APIs for inclusion in your e-commerce applications.

Content and Network Optimization

Using both content caching, content optimization, and network optimization can have significant results. Websites using Incapsula’s CDN are, on average, 50 percent faster and consume 40 to 70 percent less bandwidth.

Making Sure Your Site Is Available

Time is money and your online store needs to be always available. However, even an optimized server or website can get overloaded, rendering it unavailable. Failover is your answer to this problem. Incapsula provides three failover modes to solve three different availability problems: server load balancing for overloaded servers, data center failover for a data center outage, and global server load balancing (GSLB) for regional issues.

Incapsula can help balance traffic across multiple data center servers. This lets you scale your e-commerce site operations without requiring local load balancing appliances. We accurately balance traffic between your servers according to load, while removing unresponsive servers from the pool.

Incapsula also supports automatic failover between your primary and secondary data centers; this speeds disaster recovery in the event of an outage. Our real-time health monitoring immediately detects outages. As soon as Incapsula detects that your primary site has gone down, your standby site is automatically kick-started.

GSLB works in two modes: 1) performance-based, where a customer is routed to a data center having the best connection time, or 2) geography-based, where customers are directed to a data center according to their locale. Geography-based GSLB is often used by retailers to route traffic to regional sites having tailored content, or to comply with regulations regarding consumer privacy.

Don’t Let ‘Em Bring You Down

DDoS attacks keep getting bigger, with high-volume 50 gigabit-per-second attacks not being unusual. That is a huge volume that would take down most ecommerce servers. Is your store adequately defended? Based on Incapsula’s recent DDoS Impact Survey, 49% of companies polled reported attacks lasting between six and 24 hours. That could consume most of your organization’s Cyber Monday and, considering real-world recovery times, on into the early part of the business week.

DDoS Protection. Turn this on.

Configuring DDoS protection for your e-commerce operation is a snap. Incapsula’s web-based DDoS protection is accomplished with a single DNS change. We protect your business from both high-volume network attacks, as well as those targeted against your website or e-commerce application. All you need to do is turn it on.

Thanks to the cloud and Incapsula, adding services to your e-commerce site to make it faster and keep it protected is really easy. Even if you’re harried readying your store for the upcoming shopping days, also ensuring its round-the-clock availability to make the most of Cyber Monday is imperative. Fortunately, with Incapsula these proactive measures don’t need to consume much of your precious time.

We’ll also be keeping an eye on what the bad guys are up to on Cyber Monday. Keep an eye on #CyberMondayDDoS on Twitter if you are curious to see any attacks we’re thwarting.

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