How In-memory Caching Boosts eCommerce

With the drastic changes brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are finding new ways to shop and have been spending a significant amount of time online. A recent survey showed half of the respondents stating that there were changes in their online shopping behavior; out of these respondents, 42% were doing more shopping online.

This doesn’t necessarily mean business is booming for all eCommerce businesses, but it’s a taste of what’s to come as the channel becomes one of the most feasible channels in light of the current pandemic-driven landscape.

As more people flock to eCommerce websites and online service providers, website performance has become a main focus for most businesses today. Consumers want instant gratification, and they expect a website to completely load and give them what they need in two seconds or less. In fact, the probability of users abandoning a website increases by 32% if it loads a second more, and up to 90% if a page takes five seconds to load.

The bar for website loading speeds has become higher through the years, and near-instantaneous loading times have become an expectation for consumers. It not only results in satisfied customers but also puts your website or brand on a high level of professionalism in the perception of your customers.

Even search engines like Google have updated their algorithms to include website speed as a ranking factor. 

For the eCommerce industry, optimizing website speed is one of the most beneficial and cost-effective investments a business can make because it can lead to increased sales and a more efficient sales process. Even a few seconds of delay can lead to lost business and customer churn.

It may not seem like much at face value, but calculate how much your business earns per second and you’ll immediately see how valuable each second can be.

Why Caching is Important

In-memory caching is a tried-and-tested way of boosting website performance, especially in this age of instant everything. Ultimately, quick loading times are dependent on website architecture, and RAM has always played a major role in any server environment.

Using RAM is especially important in eCommerce, where websites handle a large number of transactions on a daily—or even hourly—basis. Logically, more RAM equates to a faster website that can serve a larger number of customers.

As the business grows, it’s therefore required to purchase more RAM and CPUs for the server hosting the website. This can lead to infrastructure costs that can increase exponentially, depending on the business’s rate of growth.

Obviously, this isn’t something that’s sustainable in the long-term, and there will come a time that this business model of continuously scaling up will reach a breaking point. On the other hand, customers will not wait for a slow website to load and will take their business elsewhere if they’re not satisfied with something as simple as website speed.

This is where caching comes into play; it addresses high network consumption and high CPU utilization by introducing a caching mechanism into the server that will store (cache) all new requests coming in. Caching effectively reduces data movement to and from disk and within the network so that the only requests that go to the disk are those that aren’t yet in the caching database.

The use of a caching mechanism on the server also minimizes the amount of RAM needed to boost overall performance of the website and improves the stability of web applications, leading to increased server uptime.

Without caching, online stores will suffer slowdowns because they are dependent on the chosen eCommerce platform server, which reloads data whenever a request is received, even if that request is a simple page refresh. This constant reloading of data wastes time and puts unnecessary strain on the web server that could lead to unexpected downtimes and slowdowns.

Caching a web page means reloading of data isn’t necessary, removing the load from the server and only doing a hard refresh when there’s a request for data that’s not yet in the caching database. Ultimately, what you can achieve with caching is a faster website that can serve more requests from customers without experiencing slowdowns or going offline completely.

Conclusion

Faster websites mean happier customers, and because pages load faster, customers visit more pages on the website. This helps improve website rankings on search engines and leads more people to your website, increasing the chances of conversion and transforming first-time customers into long-term patrons. To realize the value of caching, think of a request to the cache as one less request from the webserver and one less request that the server needs to compute and send. This simple process leads to a website that’s ten or even a hundred times faster than one without a caching mechanism in place.

Author
Edward Huskin is a freelance data and analytics consultant. He specializes in finding the best technical solution for companies to manage their data and produce meaningful insights.

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