How We Helped eShave Handle 5,000 Orders in Under 4 Hours

Last Tuesday was an exciting time for one of our clients. It was exciting for us as well.

eShave, one of our ecommerce hosting clients, appeared on the Today Show segment “Jill’s Steals and Deals“. This news segment features a few select products that have extreme discounts. It is very popular throughout the country, and can result in 250,000 or more visitors to a featured website in a few short hours.

Two weeks before the show

Danielle, the founder of eShave, called us up two weeks before the show was to air. She was excited about being selected, but quite fearful of how her website could handle the influx of traffic.

One thing was for sure – Her current website and infrastructure didn’t stand a chance…

We brainstormed here in the office. Luckily, the way this feature worked is the Today Show website would have a separate web page that would list the deals and have a special link to a specific page for each store. This was great news, as we could then focus our efforts on the landing page to be able to handle the brunt of the traffic.

But how best to accomplish this?

To the CDN!

Since there was only one landing page, and the special offer was included on this page with simple “add to cart” buttons, there was one clear solution:

Set up a static html page and put a copy of this page (along with all images, css, and javascript files) on a Content Delivery Network (CDN). A CDN is simply a network of servers throughout the globe where static content can be distributed and load balanced for fast viewing and its ability to handle large amounts of traffic.

We created a sub-domain for the Today Show, and put the landing page and it’s associated content on the CDN. In addition to this, we moved the main eShave.com website to a dedicated server with lots of RAM. We then optimized the server to handle large amounts of traffic without crashing (Geek diversion – don’t forget to modify ulimit parameters to allow Apache to burst to 2,000+ children).

The day finally arrived

Tuesday 9:15 AM – The segment aired to the East Coast. Instantly the CDN bandwidth graph spiked, showing thousands of visitors hitting the landing page. Since eShave’s offer was an 80% discount, it was only a minute later that hundreds of add to cart links were being clicked. The main server spiked quickly, and we adjusted settings to keep things up and running.

By 9:45, hundreds of orders had come in, the CDN landing page was rock solid, and their main website and cart process was humming along nicely. At 10:15, the middle of the US was seeing the segment, and eShave had already accepted over 1,000 orders!

In the first 2 hours, they handled over 2,000 orders. At the 3 hour mark, the West Coast saw it, and by hour four, more than 5,000 orders had been placed! Around 20,000 unique visitors to the main website, over 150,000 visitors to the landing page, and no downtime at all.

CDN bandwidth by city (click image to enlarge)

eShave outperformed all the other merchants

What was interesting to me was that of the 5 companies featured for the special, eShave was the only one to stay up 100% of the time. Two of the other companies offering deals had significant downtime, completely overwhelmed by the level of traffic. The other 2 had more minor issues, but were not up 100% of the time during peak traffic.

In fact, the Today Show called Danielle and asked her if everything was ok, as they had not heard of any issues like the other merchants were experiencing.

A success story

I spoke with Danielle the day after the event. They were able to accept close to 6,000 orders. They would now be busy building and shipping these products over the next few months. It was an action-packed day to say the least!

Danielle was amazed her website held up under all the traffic. I was pleased that we were able to come up with a plan to handle the volume and keep her cart up and running, able to handle 5 to 10 orders per second at times.

It was a win-win for both eShave and LexiConn. Danielle has been a client for over 10 years, and I was glad we were able to help them notch a big victory on the national stage.  :)

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3 Comments

  1. Jose Nino says:

    Congrats to Lexiconn and eShave on their success. We too were very satisfied with Lexiconn’s performance during our Oprah segment.

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