Sseko Designs Magento Site Speed Case Study

The Challenge:

Sseko Designs, one of Forix’s clients, is more than an e-commerce fashion brand. It has a vision to promote ethical fashion. Sseko Designs supports women in Uganda by employing them to make beautiful sandals and providing a means to pay for college education. Sseko recently received an amazing opportunity to appear on Shark Tank, a competitive reality TV series that has entrepreneur contestants pitch their business ideas to a panel of “shark” investors. Based on viewership stats on the show, Sseko’s website could easily see a traffic spike of 30 times more than their Magento site was equipped to handle. This potential traffic spike combined with Magento’s well known slow site speed if it’s not optimized correctly could quickly turn this dream come true into a nightmare. Downtime is never an option with any e-commerce site.

Despite an over 1,000% increase in traffic on the day of airing, Sseko’s Magento site not only handled the surge perfectly, but additional optimizations were able to reduce page load times by half.

After appearing on Shark Tank, the team at Sseko Designs were featured in Vogue, Oprah, and People, along with other publications. On March 26, Sseko Designs’ sandals appeared on a Good Morning America segment that promoted deep discounts that were only available for a day. Since the Support team had prepared for the Shark Tank showing, we once again worked to ramp up preparations for the expected influx of traffic.

The Support team anticipated that the GMA showing would generate more orders than Shark Tank, so we added another read instance to for the database server.

The Solutions:

The Forix Maintenance team worked with Bulletproof to ensure key speed optimizations for both television appearances.

  • Upgrade servers to be HVM rather than paravirtual
  • Migrate to Nginx from Apache
  • Create an Autoscaling group to launch servers on demand
  • Utilize Amazon Cloudfront CDN
  • Implemented Full Page Caching in Magento CE
  • Move to Redis
  • Pre-warm the Elastic Load-balancer
  • Addition of Another Read Instance for the Database Server During Good Morning America


The Results: 

Shark Tank:

Compared to the previous weekend, site sessions during and after airing on Shark Tank increased by 1,173%.

Compared to the previous month, Sseko’s average page load time decreased over half, despite the huge spike in website visitors.

Good Morning America: 

Compared to the showing of Shark Tank, our preparations for the Good Morning America segment decreased Average Page Load Time by 21%, Average Domain Lookup Time by nearly 60%, and Average Server Connection Time by 70%. Compared to the day prior to the GMA segment, Sseko Designs experienced a 908% increase in the amount of users on the site and a 55% decrease in bounce rate.

The other read instance for the database server prepared Sseko Designs for an amazing nearly 3,000% increase in conversion and 1,131% increase in the amount of transactions, compared to the Shark Tank showing.


With a lot of pre-planning and work with Bulletproof, Sseko’s website was able to withstand a huge increase of traffic and even improve performance during both Shark Tank and Good Morning America. Magento is known for being a bit sluggish, but with the right modifications, any Magento site can be optimized for site speed.