Striking the perfect balance between eCommerce scalability and performance is the key to ensuring your online store can handle more traffic and transactions without sacrificing speed and efficiency. Today, we're diving deep into these crucial business components, exploring what scalability and performance mean, why you need both, and how to achieve the right combination for your business on your chosen eCommerce platform.
Performance and scalability are two terms often thrown around in eCommerce discussions, and they have more to them that meets the eye. To help you understand what they mean a bit more, let’s define what they mean within the context of your business.
For many, performance is all about the user experience. Google’s Core Web Vitals (CWV) play a pivotal role in determining how your website ranks in terms of performance. According to Google’s own research, users are 24% less likely to leave a page if the site has overall Good Core Web Vitals.
Generally, Google’s Core Web Vitals measure loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability. According to Google’s own summary, the specific measurements are:
Google provides results for each of these measures as Poor, Needs Improvement, or Good. In order for sites to be considered performant, all of these metrics should be ranked as Good.
Scalability, on the other hand, is your site's ability to handle increasing traffic and transactions. It's the result of three critical factors:
The relationship between scalability and performance is intricate. If your site lacks performance, it won't be able to scale effectively. The infrastructure, application architecture, and data must support high-volume performance, making these ideas directly interconnected. In essence, you can't be scalable without being performant, but you can opt not to scale if your business doesn't require it. It's crucial to base your decision on your growth plans and seasonal needs.
In order to find the perfect blend of performance and scalability for your site, you must have a comprehensive understanding of your business, your customers’ journey, your growth potential, and your seasonality. Even with the most basic understanding of your business, you should prioritize performance. With 53% of users likely to abandon websites that take more than 3 seconds to load, performance — especially on mobile — is a key factor. Scalability, however, depends on your business growth plans and seasonal needs. If substantial growth is not on the horizon, and you don’t see a substantial uptick in site usage during certain seasons, you might not need to invest heavily in scalable infrastructure.
Scaling your eCommerce site — not just your revenue — is a proactive process. Anticipate and plan ahead to meet growing demands and prevent performance bottlenecks. Delaying scaling can result in lost sales, frustrated customers, and a damaged reputation. There are two primary approaches: vertical and horizontal scaling.
Vertical scaling, often referred to as "scaling up," involves enhancing the performance of your existing infrastructure by adding more resources to a single server. This method is like adding extra floors to a skyscraper, making the existing building taller and more capable of accommodating a growing number of visitors.
Key considerations of vertical scaling include:
Vertical scaling is a straightforward approach that works well when you have room for additional resources in your existing server and when the growth in traffic and transactions is relatively predictable.
Horizontal scaling, often known as "scaling out," focuses on distributing the load across multiple servers rather than enhancing a single server's capabilities. This approach is analogous to building more skyscrapers in a city to accommodate a growing number of visitors.
Key aspects of horizontal scaling include:
Horizontal scaling is an ideal choice for businesses anticipating rapid or unpredictable growth in their eCommerce operations. It provides the flexibility and redundancy necessary to handle surges in traffic and transaction volumes while maintaining performance and reliability.
In the context of cloud hosting infrastructures like AWS (Amazon Web Services), both vertical scaling and horizontal scaling are key strategies for managing resources and optimizing the performance and availability of applications. AWS provides various services and tools that enable users to implement both vertical and horizontal scaling based on their specific requirements. Here's how these terms relate to AWS services:
AWS provides a range of services and features that allow users to vertically scale individual instances and horizontally scale applications by adding or removing instances based on demand.
Improving performance requires a holistic approach. Consider aspects like:
A note about security: While it may not seem that security plays a direct role in your site’s performance, it is an important consideration in order to prevent bots, phishing, malware, skimming, and other potential security issues.
Selecting the right eCommerce platform is critical — it's essential to choose a platform that excels in both performance and scalability. SaaS (software as a service) platforms are often a wise choice, as they handle these concerns for you, ensuring your site remains highly performant and scalable. Investing in such platforms is a smart move, considering that their revenue is directly tied to yours.
Balancing eCommerce scalability and performance is an ongoing endeavor, and it's essential to keep adapting as your business grows, that way your website's ability to handle increasing demands can keep up. With the right strategies in place, you can achieve the ideal balance between speed and scalability.