More and more businesses are joining the eCommerce arena as consumers increasingly take their shopping online. Steadily growing competition in the marketplace means that conversions are more important than ever. However, for you to know what you need to do to convert and win the customers you want, you need information on your customer’s digital experience. This is knowledge you can easily gain via monitoring and acted on with optimization techniques. Here’s why you need both to maximize your business’ bottom line.
Today’s Digital Marketplace
As of June 2016, more consumers made their purchases online than in brick-and-mortar stores. Traditional retailers, such as Nordstrom and Macy’s posted lackluster sales numbers, and even “box stores” such as Target and Walmart posted only lukewarm sales gains. However, Amazon.com, and other digital retailers continue to do well and look to gain an even larger share of the marketplace.
Additionally, more and more of these purchases were made using smartphones. These are devices that have some of the smallest screens around and run on mobile networks, which are typically slower than those available to desktop and laptop computers. Designing and building sites for mobile devices differ somewhat from designing and building for devices with larger screens, and we’ll cover why taking this into account is so important for eCommerce companies later on in this post.
Shoppers are impatient. They are also demanding: they want your site to work, and they want it to work well. What does this mean for you? According to Kissmetrics:
- If a site hasn’t loaded in four seconds, it will have lost 25% of its visitors.
- Despite the fact that mobile devices typically operate on networks that are slower than those used by desktops and laptops, users expect their mobile web-browsing experience to be comparable to what they would get on a desktop/laptop.
- Most users encounter at least one problem while browsing, which they say leads to decreased loyalty and likelihood they’ll purchase from the retailer whose site is suboptimal.
Given that there is a reciprocal correlation between an eCommerce site’s performance and customer satisfaction, you should consider site performance as one of the most important (if not the most important) key performance indicators (KPI). This is especially true when you consider how this metric influences other metrics.
Site Performance Components
Site performance is a broad category, so we’ll summarize three major components of this metric: site availability, page load times, and mobile-friendly site design.
While making sure that your site is available at all times might seem like a given, things aren’t always quite this simple. Depending on your hosting service, server capacity, and so on, you’re probably capable of serving your typical traffic load. However, can you handle sudden, transient spikes in traffic (such as those corresponding to the holiday shopping season or media attention)? Have you protected yourself against technology stack failures that could cost you business?
Your site availability is the first possible bottleneck that impacts visitors, and any other site performance optimization technique you implement (such as page caching, using CDNs, and so on) won’t matter if your site won’t load at all.
Page Load Time
As we discussed in the previous section, shoppers are very impatient, and they have high expectations for how quickly your site loads. Put simply: if your page doesn’t load fast enough, customers go elsewhere. Lightning fast page times are of utmost concern for shoppers, and as such, they should be for you as well. Improving your page load speeds is so important and so impactful that this could be considered a highly impactful win for your organization.
Mobile-Friendly Site Design
Mobile device usage and eCommerce activity occurring on mobile devices go hand-in-hand. However, consumers do not distinguish between the type of device they’re using when they consider the quality of site performance they’re willing to accept — they want the sites they access on their phones to perform as well as they would on a desktop or laptop (in spite of the fact that the latter is probably a more powerful machine using a faster Internet connection).
Because of these high expectations, mobile-friendly site design is extremely important, since it allows you to deliver your site to your customers as quickly as possible (even with the limitations inherent in mobile usage).
How Monitoring Can Improving Your Site’s Performance
Now that we’ve discussed what site performance is and why it’s so important to your bottom line, we’ll show you how monitoring can help you meet the performance goals you’ve set for your site.
Know What Your Customers Experience
Rigor Monitoring shows how your site has performed over a given period of time.
The first step to improving your site’s performance is to gather information on your site, including details on both what is working well and what could be improved. While you might be eager to jump right in and immediately code changes to your website, you’ll want to implement a thorough monitoring system (if you don’t already have one) and act only once you’ve collected enough data to know what needs to change. Not only will this give you a better idea of how your site performs due to traffic fluctuations that occur over time, you’ll be able to identify trends in consumer behavior (such as increases in visits around pay days).
Correct Issues Before They Impact Your Users
It’s important to gather data about issues that have happened so that you can troubleshoot and fix them, but it’s better to detect them before they impact your users and your bottom line.
With tools like Rigor Monitoring, you will know right away if something on your site is malfunctioning. It doesn’t matter if it’s something that you’re directly responsible for, such as on-premise web server, or if it’s a third-party API that you’ve integrated with, Rigor can detect and alert on service interruptions. Every second that you are offline means that you’re losing income, so Rigor helps you keep those instances to a minimum.
Finally, you can use Rigor to identify warning-level issues. These are things that aren’t showstoppers (such as a server outage), but are problematic for you and your users: slow load times, large number of assets required for page loads, and so on. You can use this information to inform any preemptive actions you might want to take.
How Optimization Builds On Monitoring
Monitoring gives you important knowledge about how your site is doing, but you have to implement changes to capitalize on the information you’ve gained. This is where optimization comes in.
Automating Change Discovery to Improve Your Site’s Performance
Your website doesn’t exist in isolation, so it’s important that your site is comparable, if not faster, than your competitor’s. However, such as task can be daunting — the manpower required to keep tabs on others’ sites, deciding on the changes to make, and finally, taking the appropriate actions to ensure that your site is performant can be enormous.
See how your site compares to your competitors using Rigor Monitoring.
One way to reduce the workload these challenges bring to your team is to use an optimization service that can automate the steps similar to those a performance engineer might take. For example, Rigor Optimization:
- Uses the data gathered by Rigor Monitoring to compare your site against Rigor’s custom-curated rules to see where changes to your site might be most impactful.
- Identifies what changes you could make to improve your site’s performance based on the comparisons that occurred in step 1.
Essentially, Rigor helps you identify the changes that would garner the biggest wins for your company based on the data it has collected.
As the eCommerce marketplace gets more and more competitive, you’ll want to make sure that you stay ahead of your competitors. With the proven correlation between site performance and customer satisfaction, site performance is the KPI that you should be tracking and improving.
Monitoring your site performance is important since you need to know how it currently performs and what your users’ experiences are like, but what you do with that information is just as crucial. This is where optimization comes in — optimization complements monitoring by providing the actionable insights that help you improve your site performance. You can even automate these processes, circumventing the decision-making cycles than can become lengthy.
For additional information on what you need to track, how best to keep an eye on your site’s performance, and finally, what to do with the insights you’ve gained, contact Rigor today to see what monitoring and optimization can do for your bottom line.
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