August 11, 2011, 11:02 AM

During the holiday season consumers won’t wait for pages to load

That’s why Shopatron works with web monitoring vendor Neustar to ensure quick load times.

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About 40% of the revenue that Shopatron Inc. generates throughout the year takes place in the fourth quarter—and most of that is concentrated between Thanksgiving and the week before Christmas.

That means that the e-commerce platform and online marketing provider can’t afford slow page load times, says Dave Cumberland, Shopatron vice president, systems engineering. “We see a lot of orders and a lot of browsing traffic,” he says. “That means everything has to work up to our standards.” Those standards are load times of no more than 2.5 seconds.

To ensure that the site performs well under duress, Shopatron last year began using web monitoring vendor Neustar Inc.’s BrowserMob tool that uses a combination of actual and virtual browser users for load testing.

The tool enables Shopatron to discover if one page in particular is loading slow, as well as other inefficiencies. Having started its holiday-centric testing in June, Shopatron has been able to use its content delivery network to cache web site content so that images, product descriptions and other content can be more quickly delivered to consumers.

Shopatron tests various areas of its site throughout the months leading up to the holiday rush. By September it conducts a test of surges at all those areas at once to evaluate how it can handle extreme spikes in traffic. Shopatron works with Neustar to evaluate its load-testing needs based on its previous year’s traffic combined with its growth rates from this year. “We want to be ready for the unexpected,” says Cumberland. “This helps us do that.”

BrowserMob is free for sites that only need to test 25 actual and 100 virtual browsers. Its rates then range up to $17,899 per year for testing that uses 5,000 actual and 500,000 virtual browsers that simulate traffic from a huge pool of IP addresses.

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