Get up to speed
Any ecommerce business with an eye on the bottom line understands how online performance affects not only the visibility and usability of their website – site speed is a ranking factor on Google’s SERP – but also how it impacts conversions for better or worse.
Kissmetrics research shows that almost half of customers expect a website to load in under two seconds, while almost as many will simply move on if it takes longer than three. It’s a big forfeit for a slow-loading page. But speed is also a crucial element in how prospects and customers perceive your brand. The same study asserts that 88 percent of internet users choose to shop with the online retailers that provide a fast, user-friendly website experience.
So how can you ensure a swift response – especially in the lead-up to a peak traffic period?
The short answer is that you need to invest in real-time monitoring that notifies you instantly of anything that’s suppressing site speed. Round-the-clock visibility of shoppers’ actual journeys will enable you to accurately identify issues, analyse root causes and quickly fix problems before they impact performance.
Optimise third parties
Complex, content-rich websites often incorporate dozens of third-party solutions – on some sites, making up more than half of all page requests – delivering everything from card-processing services to personalisation and back-end analytics. This can make it difficult to work out if and when components are under-performing.
We recommend robust service level agreements (SLAs) with providers and monitoring key journeys after integrating new third-party solutions to measure the impact on the user experience (UX). Make sure you choose a monitoring solution that alerts third parties about any problems, ideally with the option of enabling direct access to monitoring results so issues can quickly be identified and resolved.
Pay close attention to testing and monitoring payment channels like PayPal and WorldPay, as live payment pages can’t be tested.
Back both sides
A/B testing is a great way to evaluate the pros and cons of different versions of the same page – and is especially useful when you want to weigh up the impact of content changes. Because it favours analysis over guesswork, you end up with real data that can help inform next-step decisions.
Conducted regularly and effectively, split testing allows ecommerce businesses to make measured alterations to the UX, without damaging brand performance or reputation. But it needs to be a trusted process. In the run up to peak, the accuracy of the A/B variants is crucial. Can you be sure your test pages are working – is the additional functionality delivering a frictionless journey for the customer?
Empowering customers to save and manage their own wish lists can increase your website’s conversion rate. It’s a risk-free way of engendering loyalty and encouraging regular repeat visits to your site – as well as attracting new prospects in the form of family and friends.
Smart shoppers often use wish lists to save items they like for future flash sale events. However, as peak traffic periods can often ramp up the load on the database far beyond day-to-day activity, it’s essential that you understand how the wish list system performs under these pressures. Are you confident it’s working? Can you switch it on and off as traffic fluctuates?
You want users to be able to see, navigate and transact on your site, enjoyably and without hindrance. If shoppers encounter obstacles when browsing and buying, they won’t persevere, instead switching their custom – and potentially their loyalty – to a different brand. This behaviour is even more pronounced on mobile, where the tiniest delay can be catastrophic for retailers.
The purpose of monitoring speed is to make the UX as flawless as possible, regardless of device, by optimising the components that are slowing the clock on the pages that have the greatest impact on conversions.
As you approach your peak, it’s important to know if your current performance monitoring and testing regime is realistic enough to deliver the sophisticated online experience shoppers expect. If you’re looking to create an irresistible UX, it’s not enough to hope for the best, you have to plan for success. Find out what you can do right now to prepare by downloading Tribe’s Peak Readiness ebook.