How to keep your Magento site rolling during the peak periods

One-page checkout

January - January Sales

Shoppers flocked online to take advantage of the New Year sales. If you were one of them; give yourself a pat on the back - you helped to grow UK sales by 1.6%. Online shopping has many perks; one being the ability to purchase items without any real muscle movement. And also speed. The online checkout process is supposed to be quick and painless - but make it a lengthy one and would-be shoppers will click off your site. Did you know that the average abandoned cart rate is over 66%? So, how can you simplify the checkout process?

Introduce Magento's one-page checkout.

Available here:

This module makes all checkout steps appear together on a single page so that customers can fill in information and modify any step at once.

Gift wrapping extension

February - Valentine's Day

Ah Valentine's Day. The day all singletons dread. But if you're in the fortunate position to be able to buy a gift for your loved one, then this next Magento tip might interest you. Not that we're gender stereotyping, (but we are), guys, generally, aren't the best at wrapping presents. So how could a Magento site solve peoples' wrapping woes?

Introduce a gift wrapping service

But where?

Right here:

Ps, did you know there is an annual Singles' Day? Ecommerce giant Alibaba saw online sales of £5bn in a single day on November 11th in China. Go single people, buying presents for themselves!

Seasonal landing pages

March - Mother's Day

Mothers. We love 'em. Online sales in March were boosted by Mother's Day, with items within the gift sector up 20% year-on-year and reaching an impressive 48% peak during the week leading up to it. With so many retail events to plan for, how can you plan and get ahead of the game?

Introduce seasonal landing pages.

To ensure a website is themed up for all the big shopper events such as Halloween, Christmas and Easter, you can introduce landing pages to promote the key events and keep customers engaged. Even better, there is an extension that will do all the hard work for you. Get the extension here:

Job done.

Free shipping in Magento

April - Easter

Chocolate chocolate chocolate. A lot of chocolate is consumed at Easter. Total volumes of Easter Confectionery sales in 2015 were up by 15.1% over last year with higher volumes during the five-week period up to Easter Sunday. But how could you boost Easter sales to ensure you're not missing out on this significant shopper event?

Offer free shipping

Ok, this may not be sustainable long-term but for key events throughout the year it makes sense to adapt your Magento site to introduce this customer perk.

Magento free shipping:

  1. Click System > Configuration
  2. Find Sales > Shipping Methods in the left sidebar.
  3. Select 'Free Shipping' from your Shipping Methods list.
  4. Then set Enabled to 'Yes', Title to 'Free Shipping', and Method name to 'Free'
  5. Set the Minimum order amount to 0.

Digital strategy

May - Holiday booking

The month of May - made for all those lucky people planning their holiday and making online bookings. In fact, the UK spends £31billion on international tourism, annually. Two-thirds of leisure travellers use search engines to research travel online and 1 in 2 UK consumers buy a holiday abroad online. So how can you ensure you're benefitting from this online activity?

Introduce a digital strategy.

Identify your business keywords and create a series of blogs on your site containing these keywords. Mention the range of products and holidays you have on offer. Website content, social media campaigns and original content are great for boosting your SEO and engaging with new and existing customers. Ecommerce competition is fierce and website speed alone won't guarantee business success.

Content delivery network

June - Father's Day

If Mother's Day wasn't enough, they had to go and introduce Father's Day! Although it's not as busy as Cyber Monday or Christmas, or even Mother's Day, it's still one of the top shopping days of the year, meaning big business for online retailers. So, it's important Magento sites are prepared to meet the demand. Need a tip to increase Magento site speed?

Content delivery network (CDN)

The closer, geographically, the CDN is to a user, the faster that content will be delivered to the end-user. A CDN allows for a much bigger throughput thanks to multiple connectors, and helps to reduce server load, by storing and distributing static content like CSS files, JavaScript files and images. Get your very own CDN, here:

Flat tables

July - Summer holidays

Summer Holidays. Holiday makers love a last minute bargain. Magento websites will be subject to a big flow of traffic with shoppers sifting through endless products in multiple categories. But, a large catalogue of products and thousands of SKUs need taming! How?

Introduce flat tables

Magento makes extensive use of an Entity Attribute Value (EAV) data model, and for the purpose of flexibility, Magento stores all category and product data across multiple database tables. To make this more manageable it's important to enable the use of flat catalogs. This will mean all catalog data across multiple tables is combined into a single 'flat' table when pages are being served.

How to enable the use of flat tables:

Magento Admin Panel

  1. Navigate to System > Configuration
  2. In panel on left under Catalog select Catalog
  3. Click to expand the Frontend section
  4. Set Use Flat Catalog Category to 'Yes'
  5. Set Use Flat Catalog Product to 'Yes'
  6. Click Save Config
  7. When prompted to refresh the Page Cache, click Cache Management link in the message at the top of the workspace and follow the instructions…

Percona over MYSQL

August - Summer sales

Summer sales. Perfect for those who aren't afraid to invest in out-of-season clothes. It's one of the biggest retail events of the year, growing annually in the ecommerce sector. With a massive 17.6% online growth in 2015, how can you ensure a Magento site will handle the surge of traffic and perform to its optimum speed?

Choose Percona over MySQL

Percona is a drop in replacement database server for MySQL. This makes it quick and easy to deploy, with minimal disruption to your website. The main benefits of Percona are in its re-engineered storage engine, which allows for much more efficient performance in terms of both reads and writes as well as buffer management over the standard InnoDB storage engine.

Additionally, its improved logging and monitoring tools allow for more granular analysis of query performance, allowing you to see which queries are performing worse than expected, and thus you can work to improve those queries to boost performance further.

Merge JS and CSS

September - Back to school

Back to school. It's when Mothers and Fathers rejoice the world-over. New stationary, bags, books, shoes, uniform, sports kit…the list is endless! How can Magento sites run to their maximum capacity in the busy September month?

Merge JS and CSS.

By combining JS and CSS into fewer files and compressing them, the load time of your website will be improved. Here's how it's done:

  1. Navigate to the developer menu
    Log into your Magento Admin Panel and navigate to System > Configuration > Advanced > Developer
  2. Check current CSS and JS settings
    Under Javascript Settings and CSS Settings, Magento will tell you if it is currently combining these files.
  3. Enable CSS and JS combining
    Under Javascript Settings and CSS Settings, set Merge JavaScript Files and Merge CSS Files to 'Yes'. Save changes.
  4. Review improvement
    After enabling combining of JS and CSS, we can observe a reduction in CSS and Javascript file requests.

How to log clean

October - Halloween

Halloween - one of America's greatest exports. Halloween is an ever-increasing in popularity in the UK, and 2014 online sales saw its biggest sales to date, reaching a growth rate of 15.5%. How can a Magento website take advantage of the surge in last-minute sales and ensure it's ready to handle the extra traffic it's expected to receive?

Clean logs from the command line.

How? Using an SSH terminal, navigate to your website document route and enter the following command:

php -f shell/log.php clean

That's the quickest place to get the job done. It's that simple. Ensure your Magento site makes a killing on Halloween.

Full-page cache

November - Black Friday

Black Friday, the two little words that fill online retailers with dread. Black Friday and Cyber Monday made the transition across the Atlantic and have established themselves as a key part in the UK retail calendar. In 2014, expectant customers had to sit in queues before they even had chance to browse their desired site. Virtual queues aren't attractive to consumers. So, what handy tool can be used to speed up a Magento website?

Full-page cache

Full-page caching is caching the entire HTML page, so that it doesn't have to be generated again for the next user, thus reducing load time significantly.

How and where? You can find the real-handy product here:

With this product, merchants reduced their page load time and raised their revenue of 10% to 35%. Here are the Nitrogento attributes:

NGINX over Apache

December - Christmas

Christmas. Without a doubt the biggest excuse for a shopping splurge. Online retail accounted for almost one-quarter of Christmas spending in 2014 and online sales saw a growth of 19.5%. Ecommerce is the fastest growing retail market in Europe and with no signs of slowing down, it's important to make a shopper's experience as user-friendly and engaging as possible. So how can that be achieved?

Use NGINX over Apache


NGINX is specifically designed and engineered to serve concurrent requests (lots of users connecting to your website at the same time), much more efficiently than Apache. There are some trade-offs to this (for example, you can't make configuration changes in real-time), but the results can be massive for a high-traffic website.

It serves static content efficiently
NGINX has a low memory footprint
It uses non-blocking Evented IO.
Netflix, Dropbox, SoundCloud, Pinterest and Instagram are part of its increasing consumer base. If it's good enough for them…

In a world where milliseconds matter and competition is fierce, configuring an ecommerce solution for peak performance is essential. Consumers in the online world are savvy, impatient humans, and slow response times will affect conversion rates.

Roll the Magento Wheel of Fortune to reveal 12 tips and tricks to help improve the overall performance and loading speed of your Magento store!