Varnish for eCommerce

Delivering Game-Changing Performance Improvements and Competitive Advantage for Online Retail

As the penetration of fast and reliable mobile internet has grown in economically mature markets, huge swathes of retailers have moved online. It’s easier than ever to find what you want on the web, from a multitude of vendors, and with the click of a button have it delivered to your door within a matter of days - sometimes in mere hours.

VS Gradient - ecommerce person 5


Online retail has grown steadily for a number of years. Then came 2020. In the wake of a global pandemic, lockdowns and travel restrictions saw high street footfall drop to near zero and everything from grocery to fashion retail forced online - and much of that may never come back to physical stores.


Research has shown that it takes around 66 days for a behavior to become a habit, and with the restrictions imposed on consumers lasting much longer than that, the tendency to shop online much more and for a wider range of goods and services, it’s likely that we’ll see a longer-term shift in purchase behavior. 


Online retail or e-commerce has a lot in common with shopping in brick-and-mortar stores - customers want to be able to easily find what they are looking for and be able to purchase it as quickly and straightforwardly as possible. What’s different about providing that experience online is that all of this needs to happen without the conversation, human intuition, and intelligence to understand and anticipate the needs of the customer and service them appropriately.


This all needs to be built into the e-commerce site. That is not only a complex task, but the sheer amount of information that needs to be collected, analyzed, interpreted, and acted on can slow the site down, meaning pages load slowly if at all, especially if they see heavy traffic.


Basket abandonment: Sales or no sales

E-commerce sites need to be both rapid and reliable, while offering a good overall customer experience. This is true whether you’re selling day-to-day groceries or low-volume, high-value luxury goods.


What may be different in the case of the latter is the use of increased levels of personalization and richer media - which can both slow things down further and have historically been problematic for many web acceleration tools.


When retail and e-commerce businesses build their sites they will often think of navigation structure and overall user experience (UX), but too few look at caching software and how it can help people find what they want quickly, easily, and without lagging or loading issues.


It’s these things that stop customers from adding items to their baskets or abandoning those baskets once they add items. These issues have never been easier to fix.


Cache me if you can

Web acceleration and caching software provides an easy way to address these issues and prevent valuable baskets being abandoned and sales being lost to competitors - who may have inferior products, but better e-commerce sites.


By storing cached versions of larger, frequently downloaded files closer to the network edge and therefore closer to the customer, you drastically reduce the number of requests to the origin server and as such preserve the high-quality customer experience you’ve built, without compromising on site speed and performance.


This not only means your site is as quick and efficient as it can be, it also means that it can cope with larger volumes of traffic before loading issues begin to occur - vital for spikes of visitors associated with marketing activity or seasonality of sales.


As retail increasingly moves online, e-commerce sites need to offer richer customer experiences that help build affinity with customers and increase the chances of a successful sale and satisfied buyers. However, the amount of large, rich media files and level of personalization often required to do this, can present challenges from a site speed perspective. 


Thankfully these challenges can be overcome.


How to reduce page load time while preserving personalization

High-performance caching and web acceleration technology, such as Varnish’s API and Web Acceleration software can not only dramatically improve site speed and overall performance, but preserve high levels of personalization without the need for extensive edits to code.


API & WEB website Diagram


This market-leading acceleration software sits in front of your e-commerce software, and enables web architects to cache everything from user information, to shopping cart data and session tokens. This means that if you use something like Magento - which while one of the world's most popular e-commerce platforms, is especially tricky to cache - Varnish can deconstruct personalized content on your site, turn it into JSON data, allowing pages to be cached and easily reassembled without the need to modify anything in your PHP e-commerce setup.


For e-commerce businesses this is a game-changer, and allows retailers operating online to increase user engagement and revenue, reduce backend operational costs, and significantly boost overall website performance. What’s better still, is that this solution is incredibly easy to implement.


With Varnish Software, online retailers have seen hit rates of up to 90 percent and page load times 50 percent faster than pre-implementation speeds. These kinds of performance improvements provide significant competitive advantage, and in an increasingly competitive space could be the difference between thriving, surviving, or getting left behind.

To speak to a specialist about how Varnish Software’s high-performance content delivery and web acceleration can help you deliver personalized online shopping experience without compromising on site speed, contact our sales team at


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Topics: retail web performance, always on retail, ecommerce, Varnish for eCommerce

2/16/22 6:57 PM by Ian Vaughan

All things Varnish related

The Varnish blog is where the our team writes about all things related to Varnish Cache and Varnish Software...or simply vents.


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