5 critical requirements for surviving and thriving in e-commerce today
During busy periods for e-commerce sales, it’s business-critical that user expectations are met with fast and reliable performance across both mobile and web
Short of time?
There has been an explosion in opportunities around the e-commerce space in recent years as buying habits have continued to migrate towards online and mobile platforms.
Traditional brick-and-mortar businesses have had to quickly adapt to the digital world through omnichannel strategies. Even native e-commerce players have struggled to keep up with the rapidly evolving expectations of online shoppers.
When purchasing goods or services through mobile or online platforms, customers expect websites to be fast, engaging and responsive. They don’t tolerate downtime and will quickly take business elsewhere if a site is lagging or unavailable.
According to a study by TagMan, a one-second delay in web page load time can mean 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction and a 7% loss in conversions.
The rise in mobility has added even more complexity to the challenge. A recent study by RetailMeNot found that the UK is the most mature mobile commerce market in Europe, with 28% of consumers using smartphones for shopping. This presents a wonderful opportunity for sales growth, but also creates more user expectations — and more obstacles.
Getting the necessary performance from a web-hosting environment for mobile devices is different from providing performance for desktop users. Mobile networks were originally designed for voice rather than web traffic. As a result, they can experience speed and reliability issues, impacting load times.
A widening range of mobile devices and usage contexts pose increasing performance issues. For example, slower processing speed due to lessened CPU power on mobile devices over their desktop counterparts.
In rapidly growing mobile and online environments; devices, networks, software, protocols and standards are continually in flux. This creates complexity and unpredictability that can make it difficult to ensure high performance and a consistent user experience.
Online sales are now central to the success of e-commerce firms and other organisations with a significant online presence. Therefore the smooth performance of websites is business-critical. To meet these expectations, businesses need to stay ahead of the challenges. This means maintaining a maniacal focus on the design and development of their web applications, mobile applications and infrastructures.
Reducing the complexity of delivering high-performing web experiences is paramount. Not only will this improve the user experience, but will provide a more cost effective model. Using proven technologies and trusted suppliers will help a business deliver an increased user experience. Such an approach will ultimately increase conversions and user engagement – a primary goal for any business with an online presence.
There are five factors that any online business would need to consider for fast and reliable online experiences.
1. High performance
For the online customer, and particularly the mobile user, speed is integral to a satisfactory experience. For e-commerce enterprises, delivering fast, high-quality web experiences using highly interactive content is critical for increasing conversion rates.
Enabling mobile devices to achieve high performance from a web-hosting environment requires a different technology approach from the traditional. Due to the rapid pace of innovation and speed of adoption in the mobile platform, firms are needing to move with speed and agility. If they do not design the right architecture to deliver the responsiveness their customers require then a competitor will.
The performance of responsive web design (RWD)-based sites can be boosted by measuring site performance from the user’s point of view. In particular, time-to-first-rendering and time-to-first-interaction; optimising front-end delivery. This includes code and code delivery. A business also needs to agree across its performance standards the organisation needs to achieve and maintain.
When it comes to e-commerce, scalability is critical to success. Scaling to meet an increase in business volume requires technology and architecture that allows for faster data access and faster application performance. This performance must be maintained — even as data and applications increase.
Businesses must provide capacity on demand to meet peak web traffic. This can be a particular challenge with lower-processing-power mobile devices. Results are typically best achieved with the power and scale of a robust platform.
Rather than simply adding hardware, storage and network capacity to existing architecture; a growing number of organisations achieve web scaling through optimisation services. Many find they can boost performance through caching and advanced offload.
Nothing hurts an e-commerce business more than site failure. This is a sure-fire way to send customers off to competing organisations. Highly available hosting solutions can keep an organisation’s website available even when other sites are experiencing outages.
When exploring solutions for ensuring availability, organisations should look for comprehensive capabilities. These may include services such as monitoring the availability of the origin infrastructure and rerouting requests when the origin is not available.
The superior level of protection that these capabilities provide not only ensures continued access to web content, but also a critical advantage in the competitive e-commerce environment. Such services keep the online environment open for business at all hours of the day.
>See also: IBM edge industry video series
Improving the e-commerce experience relies heavily on understanding and meeting the requirements of user devices. In particular, conditions surrounding a given connection.
To optimise the user experience on a scenario-by-scenario basis, e-commerce firms must leverage device and network intelligence for consistent and reliable insight into their audience’s mobile consumption. Further insights can come from the characteristics and capabilities of the devices being used, and the performance customers encounter.
Delivering sophisticated knowledge about each data request, including information about device characteristics and real-time network conditions, can enable a differentiated experience for each end-user request. This can also reduce the cost and complexity of keeping up with a continually changing device landscape.
As the online channel continues to grow, security threats increase as well. Enterprise organisations are being hacked, causing havoc across their entire customer base.
The loss of business revenue and deterioration of the brand image are enormous concerns. This is driving organisations to adopt technology solutions that ensure transactions and data are protected.
Customers require a safe online experience. One negative experience will significantly impact a firm’s customer base and brand loyalty.