June 30, 2005, 12:00 AM

Performance testing requests pointing toward a busy holiday season online

Online merchants are asking for load testing at levels representing traffic peaks of 50% to 100% higher than last year, says Keynote Systems. The average number of scripted scenarios being tested has jumped from four to five to 10 to 15.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

If retailers’ pre-holiday web performance and application testing are any indication, online merchants are getting ready for bigger holiday sales than ever, Carol Carpenter, senior director of product marketing at test and monitoring service provider Keynote Systems Inc., tells InternetRetailer.com

“Everyone’s been asking us as we help them prepare their load testing to test at higher traffic levels, from 50% to 100% more than last year,” says Carpenter. She attributes that to a general increase in consumers’ comfort level in buying online, pointing out that the retailer clients seeking higher-volume load testing are in apparel, consumer electronics, books and top-selling categories.

Also reflecting retailers’ expectations for the upcoming holiday season are more requests to Keynote to test site performance and applications from broadband connections. Typically, Keynote tests from multiple types of connections and multiple locations outside the retailer’s own data center. “They want to see simulation over DSL, cable, different kinds of connections. We’ve seen more and more testing from broadband access points,” Carpenter says.

Another change in online retailers` preparations this year is in the number of scripted end- to-end scenarios they want to test. “In the past we’d script four or five different realistic scenarios: people looking for product, people buying product,” Carpenter says. "But with many of the retailers recently, we are testing anywhere from 10 to 15 scripted scenarios. It reflects the idea that retailers understand now there are so many different paths. You don’t want to test at high volume just the log-in or the checkout process. People recognize that customers come in to do things that don’t fit in the top five paths.”

Carpenter also notes that the increase in use of rich media applications-Flash and JavaScript, for instance-increases the complexity of sites and transactions, boosting retailers’ testing requirements. “They’re looking for the assurance that it’s going to work from multiple geographic locations and if 50,000 people do it at the same time,” she adds.

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