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Online Retailing – cautious about the future?

30th June 2010

“We won’t see retailers that don’t have transactional websites in 10 years time”

Internet Retailing Magazine write in The Key To Retail 2010.

10 years? Why so cautious?

Any day now – would be my take on that.

Of course, as other folk have recorded, despite market growth, the credit crunch is impacting retailers online.

So it’s clear that the online commercial environment is set to become far more competitive in the near future, and as a result the web customer is likely to have higher expectations regarding their online experience. Respectively we can expect to see an increase in so called ‘web rage’ as users display even lower tolerance levels with site errors and slow page delivery; when there are so many other websites a mouse-click away vying for their attention, and more than willing to take their business, customers are under no obligation to remain brand loyal.

Having a competitive edge in what is set to be a frenetically congested market place will depend on the e-tailors’ ability to provide a consistent, positive online experience on site. As online stores pile on the extra goodies of videos, RIA, AJAX and the like to create a richer user experience: they are also increasing the likelihood of things not working on site!

Confidence despite the new complexity is needed.

The only way to achieve consistently high standards (customer confidence) and ensure all your applications are performing is to have a clear view of your website by monitoring from the customers perspective. Website monitoring is set to become an essential part of IT management and digital marketing activities as an increasing number of businesses will be forced to face harsh realities when company ROI is negatively impacted due to poor performance testing.

Companies need to wake up to the fact that web site monitoring is not just hitting three URls in sequence: homepage, category page X, product page Y.  That kind of webmetrics has little value.  It needs to be true User Journey monitoring: doing what real customers do: with dynamic searches, choosing products at random, adding to basket and so on. It is surprising how even big names, who have website monitoring in place, are still not covering the money making User Journeys they need to  – all too often leaving it up to the contact centre to find out first about the customer’s online problems.

Customers encouraged onto a website will quickly retreat when online website performance expectations are not met, or they simply cannot access the site due to high demands generated through marketing efforts.  Website Load testing is needed in advance.

Even though we can expect both retailers and customers to flock to the online market place, the keynote message us that without thorough testing of IT infrastructure, the customers may come – but they certainly aren’t guaranteed to stay.