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We’re entering the holiday shopping period, which is the busiest time of year for many merchants. In fact, the five days immediately following Thanksgiving have been dubbed the “Cyber Five” because of the spike in traffic for ecommerce sites.
Traffic patterns from Bigcommerce merchants in 2014 illustrate this point. Many of our merchants enjoyed a strong 2014 holiday season. For Bigcommerce merchants, orders per minute on Black Friday and Cyber Monday were 2.5x to 3x higher than normal.
Throughout the year, the Bigcommerce Engineering team works on developing new product features, enhancements to our platform and integrations with key partners including Alibaba, Facebook, Intuit, PayPal/Braintree, Pinterest, Square, Twitter, Xero and many others. We’re also continuously improving the uptime and performance of our systems. So far this year, we’ve improved network response time by 30%, because faster storefronts provide increased sales for our merchants. To provide this level of innovation, our team continually releases code every week (one of the many benefits of our SaaS-based architecture).
We approach the holiday season with a slightly different mindset. Although we are still working on new features behind the scenes and constantly monitoring to ensure stability and performance of our platform, during this time of year we intentionally have far fewer code releases to our servers. Instead, our goal is to minimize changes to our platform to provide the utmost level of service and reliability during this critical time of year for our merchants.
How Code Freeze Works
As of mid-November, we’ve already reduced the number of changes to our platform. We will continue to do so until we reach our “code freeze” period (November 22nd to December 12th), during which very few changes will be made to our platform. After code freeze, we will slowly ramp-up the pace of changes to our platform until we resume our regular cadence.
We used this strategy in 2014 to ensure 100% uptime for our merchants –– an achievement we plan to replicate this year.
The Engineering team has also strengthened our infrastructure to prepare for the anticipated spike in shoppers. We’ve added faster servers in our data center, rebalanced load across our database clusters, reserved additional compute capacity and built an additional caching tier.
At the top of our wishlist is for all of our merchants to sell more during the holidays. We’re taking these steps to ensure every Bigcommerce storefront is available and performing during the peak shopping season.
Photo: Flickr, Ruth Hartnup
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