With Christmas on our doorstep, many Australian’s are expected to head online in greater numbers to get their last minute Christmas gifts and while online retailers have just recovered from the November sales an estimated 30% won’t be able to meet the demands of online shoppers this Christmas. We are in for some more high profile crashes.

In a report by the Australian, Australia Post CEO, Ahmed Fahour indicated 2016 will be the busiest year ever for Online Retailers with 60 per cent of Australian’s expected to buy online.

The Wall Street Journal referred to the holiday rush as a “perfect e-commerce storm” with Christmas and Hanukkah both falling on a weekend the most popular shopping weekend is a full week earlier, and many users are expected to turn to online stores in the working week leading up to the holiday weekend.

We’ve just had a preview of what’s to come with the US (now global) Black Friday and Cyber Monday online sales in November; some online retailers didn’t survive the rush of users with many customer experiencing issues when shopping online and turning to social media to vent their frustrations. The Express reported UK electronics retailer; Currys PC World suffered website issues, Popular computer software store GAME also crashed as customers were reaching the online checkout. In the US Macy’s website failed when users flooded the site searching for deals. Even computer giants such as Dell experienced issues.

Locally, David Jones experienced website slow-downs when they incorrectly posted their Lifestyle Canvas Duffle Bag for 10 cents. The deal was posted on the popular Australian website OzBargain and buyers quickly flooded the David Jones site causing it to slow to a crawl. Regular users of the bargain hunting site refer to this as getting “OzBargained”, and it’s a regular occurrence when attractive deals go live on the site. The deal was subsequently pulled and customers refunded.

Last year RetailDive reported US retail giants such as Newegg, Jet, Foot Locker and Wal-Mart had similar issues, Target went offline for periods, and Neiman Marcus experienced extended outages up to 12 hours missing significant portions of the Black Friday weekend. Closer to home, you may remember the major outages with Myer offline for a week during 2013 sales and the Click Frenzy “sale that stops the nation” botched launch in 2012.

While online sales look set to continue growing; it’s not just online spending that’s increasing; CBA conducted a XMAS spending survey of 1,030 Australians in October 2016, the report showed the average spend per Australian is up 31 per cent since 2014. The average Australian is set to spend A$599 on Christmas gifts in 2016. The numbers vary across Australia with Western Australia the most expensive at A$646 and South Australian’s get the best of the batch at A$505. The report also identified that a majority (60 per cent) of Australians would spend without setting a budget or tracking their expenditure with national budget blowout predicted to reach A$616 million.

CBA’s report also predicts some shoppers will leave it to the last minute with Thursday 22 December expected to be one of the three busiest days for retailers.

Luckily some retailers are starting to realise the importance of Performance Testing and Disaster Recovery planning and beginning to put plans in place to deal with these peak traffic periods and get by without an outage or significant customer impact. But many are still in the dark and as recent outages have demonstrated even some of the biggest players in the market are getting it wrong.

Online service providers across Australia from Government to online retailers are starting to up the ante proactively simulating a flood of user traffic using modern performance testing tools and techniques. This allows organisations to identify and remediate any weak links with their online services before real users start flooding the site or service. Modern performance testing platforms such as CA BlazeMeter allow performance testing specialists to execute complex performance test scenarios with up to millions of concurrent users, something previously not feasible with traditional tools and methods.

Permeance Technologies provides performance testing and remediation solutions to public and private sector organisations across Australia.