By Noa Shavit, Director of Content & Product Marketing at Moovweb
By Leo Sarian, Head Marketing & Partnerships at Moovweb

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday broke new online records in 2019, totaling $16.8 billion and representing a 20 percent increase year-over-year. Online revenue generated during ecommerce holidays is only projected to increase, especially in 2020 when in-store shopping will be highly restricted due to COVID-19.

Busy ecommerce holidays bring enormous revenue gains, but also present massive challenges for retailers. Traffic spikes threaten the availability and experience of ecommerce websites and create slowdowns that result in revenue losses that could have been avoided with the right infrastructure.

With Moovweb XDN and Amazon Web Services (AWS), retailers can avoid costly slowdowns and maximize revenue potential during the holiday season. Websites on the XDN actually get faster as traffic increases.

Once a product is requested, Mooweb’s CDN-as-JavaScript caches the JSON data at the edge, so it loads instantly. As visitor levels rise, so does cache hit rates for data at the edge, resulting in a faster experience.

In this post, we will cover how caching is currently done for ecommerce websites and how Moovweb XDN and AWS help large-scale ecommerce websites deliver instant shopping experiences and remain five seconds ahead of shoppers’ taps.

Moovweb is an AWS Advanced Technology Partner with the AWS Retail Competency. Moovweb XDN is available on AWS Marketplace.

Introduction to Moovweb XDN

Moovweb XDN was built for large-scale ecommerce websites and helps make the web instant and simple. It’s an all-in-one platform to develop, deploy, preview, experiment on, monitor, and run your frontend.

Moovweb XDN works with virtually every frontend and backend system. It helps ecommerce websites with thousands or even millions of pages consistently deliver sub-second median LCP (Largest Contentful Paint) times to users.

Shoe Carnival and AKIRA are great examples of retailers that consistently delight customers with sub-second median page loads using Moovweb XDN and AWS.

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Figure 1 – Site speed changes due to traffic fluctuations.

Moovweb XDN runs highly-optimized customer code on AWS Lambda, and leverages AWS networking services so that website speed actually increases with traffic. While many sites typically slow down as traffic increases, sites using Moovweb XDN and Lambda get faster as traffic rises because more visitors lift cache hit rates at the edge.

Once a product is requested, Moovweb’s CDN-as-JavaScript caches the product data at the edge so it’s delivered instantly from that point until the edge cache is cleared. The result is that websites on the XDN shield their database from 95 percent of the requests, while the average ecommerce website sees single digit edge cache hit rates.

Why Ecommerce Websites are Inherently Slow

The average ecommerce website takes 3-5 seconds to load. Desktop loads are faster than mobile, but they both fall into the same range.

The HTTP Archive has found that while we have transitioned from dial-up connections to 5G over the course of a decade, mobile sites haven’t sped up over the course of this time. In fact, mobile pages take more than double the time to load today compared to 10 years ago.

While this is true for every vertical, ecommerce websites have unique functionality that add precious seconds to page loads. This includes dynamic pricing, real-time inventory lookup, thousands of SKUs, dozens of tags, personalization, and more. Each adds milliseconds to page loads, which eventually adds up to multiple seconds.

Most retailers attempt to combat these issues and speed up their sites using traditional content delivery networks (CDNs) and on-page optimization tools, only to be stuck in an endless cycle of optimization that barely moves the needle. This is because CDNs were built to optimize static assets, while ecommerce websites have evolved to become dynamic, database-driven experiences.

Traditional CDNs cache asset URLs, not page URLs. They cache images and text, not JSON data (or SSR/HTML) that is pulled from the product database—the content that makes your site slow.

To put this another way, consumers are waiting for the JSON data which makes up the specific size, color, and price of the product they are interested in. Ironically, this data isn’t cached by traditional CDNs and is the reason ecommerce sites see a low cache hit ratio for dynamic data at the edge, averaging at a mere 6 percent.

The easiest way to improve an ecommerce website experience and ensure you’re monetizing traffic to the maximum is to increase the speed in which product details are delivered. For that, you need to be able to cache and prefetch dynamic data.

Caching and Prefetching Data at the Edge

Moovweb XDN gives developers complete control over caching and prefetching via its application-aware CDN-as-JavaScript. Developers can directly control caching and prefetching from within their application via routes.js.

Here’s an example of an edge caching rule in a routes.js file:

new Router() .get('/p/:id', ({ cache }) => { cache({ edge: { maxAgeSeconds: 5 * 60, // 5 minutes key: new CustomCacheKey() .excludeAllQueryParametersExcept('skuID') .addCookie('region', ({ group }) => { group('na').byPattern(/us|ca/) }) } }) })

With Moovweb XDN, you write caching rules in the same place and language as you write your frontend.

Through a combination of advanced predictive prefetching, Moovweb’s JavaScript-configurable CDN, and edge caching, websites on the XDN see an average 95 percent cache hit ratio for dynamic data at the edge. Most importantly, these websites remain 5 seconds ahead of shoppers’ taps at all times.

This is done by caching JSON data at the edge and using advanced predictive prefetching to stream the data a user is most likely to request next from the edge to their browser, before they tap on a thing. This way, you ensure an instant online shopping experience from landing through checkout.

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Figure 2 – Caching and prefetching of data at the edge with Moovweb XDN and AWS.

How it Works

With Moovweb’s CDN-as-JavaScript specification illustrated above, the AWS Lambda function, Edge L1 & L2 Shield Cache, and service worker within a user’s browser all have the same understanding of the cache profile of a website’s data (crucially including API responses and HTML data, not just images and assets).

This is achieved via an XDN library, provided via npm, that executes in the user’s browser. This library dynamically determines where a shopper is likely to navigate to and coordinates with these layers (Lambda, Edge L1, L2, and service worker) to stream data into the browser cache before the user even taps on the link.

  • L1: The XDN features a global network of nearly 100 global Points of Presence (PoPs), ensuring each user experiences minimal latency when connecting to the site.
  • L2: The XDN employs L2 cache that maximizes global cache hit rates and reduces traffic on the servers by coalescing requests. This reduces the concurrent load on your APIs and allows you to run with lower costs.
  • Service worker: XDN Workers in multiple regions provide high-availability, scalability and SSR.

By anticipating where the user will go and streaming the relevant cached data from the edge to their browser before it’s requested, the website remains 5 seconds ahead of its users at all times.

Summary

The average ecommerce website takes 3-5 seconds to load with traditional content delivery networks. These CDNs were designed to cache static assets and fail to cache data from your database, which is what consumers are waiting for.

Moovweb XDN enables sub-second median page loads (as measured by LCP) for large-scale ecommerce websites in a secure, reliable, and affordable manner. The XDN does this by predictive prefetching cached JSON data from the edge to the end user’s browser, before they tap on a thing. This way, the experience feels instantaneous from landing through checkout.

The ecommerce holidays are fast approaching, and Moovweb XDN and AWS can accelerate your website as traffic increases. On the XDN, cache hit rates rise and websites get even faster with traffic lifts.

This enables ecommerce companies to deliver a lightning-fast experience that squeezes the maximum possible conversions out of every visit this holiday season with Moovweb XDN and AWS.

Get started with Moovweb XDN on AWS Marketplace.

The content and opinions in this blog are those of the third party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.

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Moovweb – AWS Partner Spotlight

Moovweb is an AWS Retail Competency Partner. Moovweb XDN provides infrastructure for websites and all of the tooling developers need to develop, deploy, preview, experiment on, monitor, and run the frontend.

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