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How to prepare your WooCommerce store for a surge of customers

Every online store owner dreams of a sudden increase in traffic.

You’ve likely seen steady growth in traffic to your site if you already use social media, Search Engine Optimization, and other marketing strategies. What if you get a sudden surge in traffic to your store?

Your website is equipped to handle this? You could face a variety of problems that could lead to lost sales or harm your reputation.

  • Your site may be slower and performance may suffer.
  • Your website may go down completely
  • Customers may have issues with their cart and checkout.

To avoid these situations, it is important to be able to predict when spikes might occur and how to prepare your eCommerce website for such an increase in traffic.

Is it possible to predict when your website will get a surge in customers?

Although not always the case, here are some common causes.

  • An established website links to your site or mentions it.
  • An online influencer promotes your product or content.
  • You publish content on a topic that is hot or trending.
  • There are seasonal products that get more attention during holidays or at a particular time of the year.
  • Your website becomes viral on social media.
  • Your company and you are highlighted in the media (e.g. Shark Tank

These things can all boost your website traffic. But imagine if several of them happen simultaneously. You don’t want sales to go unnoticed.

How to prepare your online store for increased traffic

Consider the following categories when preparing your website to attract more customers: testing, tech tweaks, and inventory.

Tech Tweaks

1. Talk to your hosting company.

First, you need to look at the website hosting package. Many hosts restrict the resources that your website and visitors can use, particularly if you are on a shared hosting plan. This means you share server space among other customers. Cloud hosting is a better option if you expect increased website traffic.

Cloud hosting plans that include load balancers can be a great option. However, if you aren’t sure or don’t know where start, speak to your web host. The best solution for you will depend on how much traffic your website is getting and what you expect to see it grow.

Ask them about what happens if your resource limit is exceeded. Hosting companies will often move you to a higher-tiered plan in order to handle extra traffic. They may also charge you for this service. This is better than hosting companies who take down your site completely if it uses too much resources.

2. Your website should be up-to-date

It is essential to update your website regularly, but especially if you expect a flood of visitors.

Your themes and plugins should be updated, along with your PHP version. Contact your hosting company to determine the current version and to request an update to comply with WordPress requirements.

Important: Before making any changes to your website, make sure you have a backup. To ensure that your themes, plugins and resources are compatible with the latest PHP version, you can use the PHP Compatibility Plugin Checker.

 

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3. Use a Content Delivery Network, (CDN ).

CDNs store your website content on multiple servers around the world. The content of your website is loaded from the closest server when someone visits it. This speeds up the delivery process. Although this may sound complicated, your visitors will be able to benefit from an increase in speed, particularly if they are global.

This solution is ideal for potential influxes in website traffic. Because you will have “copies” of your website on different servers, one “outage” won’t stop people from visiting your site.

Jetpack is a high-quality, free CDN that offers a variety of bonuses, including image optimization.

4. Install a Caching Plugin.

Caching is another way to improve the website’s performance. Caching allows you to create a temporary, static HTML page that helps reduce “communication” between WordPress’s database and WordPress.

So instead of WordPress running to your database to get information–especially in times of high traffic– it can serve your customers the cached version of the page instead, which results in faster load times, and better performance.

Here are some caching plugins you might like to check out:

Test

1. Do a website speed and performance check:

It is important to take a baseline measurement of your site’s performance and speed, especially if you are expecting a lot of traffic.

You can check the speed of your website by using free tools like GTMetrix and PageSpeed Insights from Google. These tools will analyse your website and make recommendations for improving speed. Take this example:

  • Optimize your images ( You can find a complete tutorial here).
  • Use browser caching to leverage (explained below)
  • Use a CDN (explained below)
  • Minify CSS, HTML and other scripts (can also be done with the caching plugin mentioned above).

The P3 (Plugin performance profiler) plugin can be used to run a plugin performance test. This plugin can be used to check the performance of your plugins.

Your website will be more able to handle large volumes of traffic if it is optimized for speed and performance.

2. Run a Stress Test:

After you have optimized the technical aspects of your website, you can conduct a stress test to ensure that your website can handle increased traffic.

What can you do?

Use a load testing tool to simulate a surge in traffic to your site. See how it performs. This will allow you to determine the traffic volume your site can handle, without having an adverse effect on performance.

  • Important Note : Before you do this, ensure that your database is optimized and that your server is properly configured.
  • It is recommended that you stress test your staging site rather than your live website. To get a true picture of your site’s capabilities, you must set up your staging environment exactly like your live website.
  • A stress test can be a bit complicated so this should only be done by experienced website developers. This excellent article will help you understand the specifications and how to start.
  • There are many web developers who specialize in WooCommerce and can help you take advantage of load testing.

Learn more:

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Inventory

Consider your inventory when you prepare for potential traffic surges.

Although you can’t predict when or how big a surge will occur, it is better to be prepared than miss a great opportunity.

Take a look at the sales figures from the last traffic spike. This will give you an idea of the inventory situation.

Double-check your WooCommerce inventory settings.

  • Are you interested in showing your customers the inventory of products that are still available?
  • Are you allowing them to order backordered products?
  • Are you able to receive notifications when stock is low?

WooCommerce offers many options when it comes inventory. See our documentation! If you want more control and flexibility, there are many extensions that will help.

Conclusion

A surge in website traffic can be very exciting. However, it can be very stressful if your site is not prepared.

It doesn’t matter if your website sees a small spike in traffic or a large surge in customers, it is important to be aware of your options so that you can plan ahead.


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