Load Testing An Ecommerce Site – An Ongoing Saga

Given the digitization volumes today, load testing has become a critical non-functional area to ensure product readiness from a quality standpoint before go-live. Also, while testing in production is a valuable practice, organizations are taking up across quality attributes, this becomes especially important for load testing, more specifically for ecommerce load testing across websites and mobile applications. To understand this mix of pre and post release efforts, in greater detail, let’s take the case of Flipkart, as an example:

The leading e-commerce giant in India, Flipkart, sees huge volumes in usage that continues to rise by the day. The traffic monitoring portal, similarweb.com, talks about 221.58M visits to the site in the last 6 months, as of March 2019, which is 15% more than the previous timestamp of record. Along with regular increase in visits and sales, Flipkart continues to successfully host its Big Billion Dollar (BBD) sale year on year during the Dashera season. Having completed 5 BBDs in 2018, if one looks back at the first BBD in 2014, it wasn’t a rosy picture after all. Within half an hour of the sale going live, not only did the application crash but it also choked the overall Internet bandwidth in the country and made slow or pulled down leading payment gateways and even sites such as the Indian Railways. From there, to a very successful BBD in 2018, the organization has come a long way – this is no way, a by chance sequence of events. The organization has made load engineering and associated load testing an ongoing learning and saga.

Today with increased volumes (specifically during BBD, almost 20X the regular volumes), the process is smooth not just due to the hardware and software optimizations done in preparation for the big day, but the live monitoring that happens during the event too, especially from load, performance standpoints. On the home ground, from sophisticated infrastructure, to hardware and software optimizations, to graceful throttle mechanisms, building multi-tier robustness and fall back mechanisms, to live streaming and analysis of data, this is a live act rolling up, that is meticulously monitored and tuned.

Also, when it comes to ecommerce load testing, one is not in the mix alone – all supported systems need to offer exemplary load support – whether it be your retailers/partners, payment gateways, any other third part integrators. To that extent, one is load testing for the integration points too, to ensure a complete holistic experience.

While this BBD is once a year event, it gives not just Flipkart valuable lessons to learn on the load testing front, but for the entire ecommerce load testing market base. Globally, all ecommerce solution providers, have their peak seasons to handle – whether it be during the Chinese New Year, the Thanksgiving Holiday, Christmas and New Year Season and so on – all of which provide ample lessons to implement and take forward year on year, for the load testing services industry.

A lot of excitement is already building up for a very grand 6th edition of BBD – this saga continues and so does the ecommerce load testing saga, which is a fine balance of being pro-active, re-active and more importantly live and in the moment, making it a multi-dimensional engineering attribute, to deliver above par shopping experiences.

About the Author

Rajini Padmanaban

Rajini Padmanaban

As Vice President, Testing Services and Engagements, Rajini Padmanaban leads the engagement management for some of QA InfoTech's largest and most strategic accounts. She has over seventeen years of professional experience, primarily in software quality assurance. Rajini advocates software quality through evangelistic activities including blogging on test trends, technologies and best practices. She is also a regular speaker in conferences run by SQE, QAI STC ,ATA, UNICOM, EuroStar and has orchestrated several webinars. Her writings are featured in TechWell, Sticky Minds, Better Software Magazine. She has co-authored a book on crowdsourced testing . She can be reached at rajini.padmanaban@qainfotech.com

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