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Is Your Website Built to Handle the Busy Holiday Shopping Period?

Is Your Website Built to Handle the Busy Holiday Shopping Period?

Thanksgiving is now but a distant memory.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday are in the past too. However, as every retailer knows, the busy season has only just begun. According to industry experts, eight of the ten busiest holiday shopping days have yet to come. As your organization prepares for this onslaught of activity, now is the perfect time to review your online shopping experience to ensure you maximize this time.

Knowing your shopping cart 

In an ever-growing online retail market, to remain competitive companies often offer deals to attract visitors. However consumers today are inundated with such offers, so any instance where a site they visit has problems and causes them issues means they will leave the site. Granted some industries are more susceptible to shopping cart abandonment, but regardless, it is everyone’s interest if all web teams are continually overseeing and deploying the relevant services to ensure customers stay and complete their online purchase.

According to Statistica, of the top eight reasons consumers do not complete their transaction two are tech specific—long processes and poor site navigation. However, a cursory glance at the remaining six reveals they too are technology-related.  If you have not implemented a data infrastructure informed by survey results, user experience research, traffic patterns, consumer purchasing choices, amount of time spent on your site before spending,  any errors and points of failure in your process, well the results speak for themselves. This begs the question, have you trained your staff to incorporate such data into your products and services?


Original image source:

Website performance 

The performance of your organization’s website is equally crucial as the shopping cart experience. If customers experience slow-loading pages, they will likely get frustrated and leave. We expect high-speed internet connections that enable fast loading content. Remember, this includes not just the written text, but any images or apps that run also appear on the site.

Today’s web experience is complex and presents a challenge for developers to deliver on a continual basis. As the chart below illustrates, organizations have five seconds or less to engage a customer, or they will leave your site. Please do not make the first thing a visitor sees is a chatbot right in the middle of viewing, instead work to make the shopping experience easy and efficient. Make sure that all your pages are in sync with each other especially if you have started using a microservices approach to delivering your services, software, apps and systems. Pages must also work together in a well-orchestrated flow to improve the user experience.

Original image source: LoadStorm

Several studies show how a little latency will cause abandonment and loss of revenue. Amazon conducted research almost ten years ago and found that 100ms of latency cost them 1% in sales revenue. Think about that in today’s world where so many more people shop online. Do you know what your latency threshold is for delivering a page to a prospective customer/purchaser?

Navigation and Search 

Performance is not just about how fast the pages load, but how easy it is for a visitor to move around your site. As the chart above shows, about 16% of visitors will leave because of poor navigation. It is easy to fix or improve navigation. For example, if I arrive at your website from a search for “men’s raincoat” why not show other similar “men’s raincoats” and perhaps even try to upsell. Don’t make me have to click on a bunch of checkboxes to filter for men, waterproof, coats, and so on. Instead, know why I am up at your site and exploit that information. The online shopping experience is important, and large outdoor retailers need to get their search and navigation act together, quickly.

Data from Statistica shows that clothing retailers lose the most business in digital shopping carts. Today having a user experience that works is imperative if you want to prevent customers from just going to Amazon for everything. Have you trained all your user experience designers to use the same tools, nomenclature, approaches, and methods? Are your data people on the same page with their understanding of user experience working as part of a DevOps team? Have you trained them to work together, or have you just thrown them into a group and hope they will figure out how to work together?

The complete integration of your technology systems

Does your technology stack support the full integration of all your systems? In other words, are you able to check inventory databases, tax tables and geolocation for determining appropriate tax? Can you check shipping rates or bring in a third-party app to conduct this service? Does your front-end stack allow seamless access to your back-end stack of services so the experience is positive? Is your full-stack secure and resilient? Is it reliable—availability, latency, performance, and capacity? Also, while you are building these stacks are you reducing organizational silos? Do your teams accept failure and implement gradual but continual changes? Do you leverage tools and attempt to automate whatever you can? Do you measure everything so you can make effective changes? If you are answering yes to most of these questions, you are in great shape. If you answered no, well now is the time to start addressing these areas.

Security wraps around it all

Is your entire workforce sufficiently trained to understand how to make your enterprise secure and safe for both employees and customers? Is your data and data infrastructure protected from intruders? With the increase in social phishing and attacks, bring your own device (BYOD) intrusions, phishing schemas and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, your organization is only as safe as the weakest or most ill-informed member of your staff.

With the rise in data security regulations, laws and compliance ordinances security must be an obligation to customers and a right for employees to expect that your security measures will not put them in harm’s way.  Here are some basics to make sure you are on the right path:

  • Establish and make sure everyone follows policies
  • Make sure you foster a culture of secure actions and awareness
  • Ensure all passwords are strong and reset on a regular basis
  • Make sure that everyone keeps their virtual private network (VPN) going and does not disable any security applications you have installed to help protect the organization.

These are simple basics, but many companies are not vigilant about enforcing security measures. Stay on top of it, stay safe.

One thing that will help is to provide access to learning resources so your teams can obtain the necessary skills, knowledge and practice with these concepts. Skillsoft has an extensive portfolio of content for enterprise and technology software development professionals, covering all the areas you need to help you ensure your organization is celebrating excellent results in 2019 and beyond.


Mike Hendrickson is the VP, Technology & Developer Products at Skillsoft. 



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