While you might not think of Easter as a traditionally heavy time for retail, experts predict that “online transactions increase by an average of +17% over the three Easter trading days, with the greatest increase of +20% forecast for Easter Monday.” Unlike the Christmas holidays, this year Easter falls right around most people’s pay day, and doesn’t involve as much spending in the run up to the holiday, leaving many people feeling flush during their time off work. As last year’s spending hit a high of more than $18 billion, and that number has been climbing consecutively for the past three years, the Easter season is something for online retailers to take advantage of.
While high street spending is often weather dependent, the National Retail Federation found that in 2017, almost 27% of shoppers planned to buy their Easter purchases online, a 6% increase on 2016. As this trend continues to grow, it’s more important than ever that our ecommerce websites are optimized and up to the challenge.
The main thing to be worried about is overloading your website with visitors. On Black Friday 2016 for example, companies as prominent as Macy’s, Old Navy, Quidco and GAME all were woefully underprepared for the spike in traffic, and ended up paying the price in lost sales and customer frustration.
Getting yourself ready for the holiday season is essential, and we’ve created the perfect checklist for ecommerce optimization and success.
Test and Prepare
In the lead up to the holiday season, make sure you aren’t making any major code changes. Now isn’t the time to be on the back foot when it comes to testing. As there are only a matter of weeks before this busy retail period, you want to know exactly how your website is performing.
The most important area to test is your conversion routes. From broken product images or links, to a slow or unsuccessful checkout process, customers will quickly go elsewhere if there are any issues. -While you might think your customers will simply ask if they have a problem, research shows that a large percentage of visitors would rather clean a toilet than speak to customer service! If they can’t complete their purchase, they simply go elsewhere- to your competition.
Problems can occur at any stage of the transaction, so SharePath promises real end to end transaction monitoring with Business Transaction Management. Unlike other so-called end to end monitoring which simply shows the health of the individual components, this process monitors the transactions, which pull everything together across the entire IT stack. This includes:
Testing is obviously a key part of ecommerce optimization and of being ready for a higher volume of traffic. With Sharepath, you can monitor stress levels to compare the application behaviour under varying loads of users, all happening concurrently, so that you can identify bottlenecks which are happening cross-tier. Some businesses use Soak Tests, where they monitor what happens when high traffic is experienced for a long period of time, or Spike Tests, where the traffic is tested with a large surge in traffic over a short period.
Key Takeaway: Ensure you are experiencing real end to end monitoring with Business Transaction Management, and that you have tested a wide variety of scenarios in the conversion process, as customer service needs to be proactive.
Nowadays, we all rely on cloud based or virtual services, as well as shared networks and servers. In large part because of this, it can be really tough to see where a problem originates. An application that was once straightforward can now occupy a complex production environment. This can make it impossible to problem solve, let alone in real-time and during a high-pressure holiday atmosphere where seconds = dollars.
Sharepath automatically tracks modules so that you can have seamless problem isolation in real time. Problems can be isolated by tier, application, individual user, IP address, or any custom parameters that you want to set. You will then get real-time alerts by email when certain applications are underperforming, allowing your IT dept to isolate and resolve problems, and even compare them with baseline data or any historical issues you might have had.
Key Takeaway: Being able to see where a problem originates in real-time is worth its weight in gold.
Where Are Your Customers?
4 out of 5 consumers say they use their phone for online shopping, and more than half of online shopping is now done via mobile phone or tablet device. It’s important to recognize that the different channels that your customers find you on have vastly different operating systems, processes, configurations and browsers.
Checking that your shopping experience via mobile is just as intuitive and seamless as on desktop is essential. This includes page load times on different browsers and devices, service level performance, and both mobile website and app availability. Omnichannel monitoring means that when a user starts shopping on one device, and finishes their order from another, you have all the information you need to track this from end to end.
Key Takeaway: More than 50% of online shopping is done away from a desktop computer. Monitoring needs to be omni-channel and multi device.
Real User Monitoring: What Should You Be Looking At?
Real-time monitoring of every user journey means that you don’t have to guess what issues there are on your ecommerce website based on averages, and you can track and identify which customers are affected and how. In times of heavy traffic, this has many benefits, including:
As well as the conversion paths your customers are taking, there are a number of other important areas to focus on when you’re expecting a surge in traffic.
One of the most important metrics to follow is the performance of your landing pages. How fast do they load, and how does this change when the site is under strain? Are your redirects smooth and successful, and at what point are customers failing to convert? This can help you understand where tweaks need to be made, or what questions to ask when you hand over the issue to customer service.
There are also secondary website functions to consider. One customer found that their login page was the slowest of their website for example, which clearly holds one of the most essential functions. Social media integration, search functionality, or user registration and getting in touch with customer service are all often not the primary function of your ecommerce website, and yet will cause frustration and churn if the UX fails to live up to the competition.
Key Takeaway: Proactive customer service can only be provided with Real User Monitoring. Don’t forget to keep track of the secondary website functions which may be causing frustration and churn.
Making the Easter shopping season count means ensuring your website is ready to handle the strain and early ecommerce optimization is key in making this a reality. From thorough analysis, multi-channel monitoring, and a real-time view of each and every user, we’ve got it covered for superior customer experience this holiday weekend.
Download the use case now!