Sales and marketing are no doubt the backbone of eCommerce, but there are other factors that must be given careful consideration and plenty of attention in order for an eCommerce business to be successful. Namely, the uptime, performance and security of your website itself.
So why are uptime, performance and security such important parts of eCommerce? In the end, it's because all three of these factors can have a direct impact on your sales and your business. Each one is important in its own way, and eCommerce directors who gloss over any one of them do so at the risk of lost sales and unhappy customers and, possibly, the loss of the business itself.
To help you better understand just how significant each of these factors really are, we've outlined the impact that each one can have on an online store.
The Importance of Uptime
During periods of high traffic (such as what many online retailers experience during the holiday season) websites may become overloaded and stop functioning. Even a few minutes of downtime can be detrimental to a business resulting in 10’s of thousands of dollars lost. Not only does downtime cost you sales during the time that your website is down, it may cost you customers as well. Surveys show that nine out of ten online shoppers who encounter a non-functional website will immediately switch to a competitor's site and purchase their products there instead—and it’s difficult to win these customers back.
Shoppers who visit a down website quickly grow frustrated and begin to see your business as unreliable, potentially deterring them from shopping on your website even once it is up and running again. Another, often overlooked consequence of downtime is lost employee productivity. If your customers aren't able to access your website, your employees won't be able to either, meaning that a good portion of your marketing staff will be left unable to do their jobs while they wait for the IT folks to remedy the situation.
So what can eCommerce directors do to maximize uptime on their website? While downtime is often caused by a peak surge in traffic overloading servers, there are other causes such as a power outage or equipment failures. These things can be countered by high availability solution designs that enable interrupted shopping sessions due to hardware malfunctions, power outages or bandwidth spikes to failover and scale accordingly. The end result is your shopper is unaware of the issues happening behind the scenes and can complete their purchases uninterrupted.
The Importance of Performance
Your website doesn't have to completely crash in order to deter customers and cost you sales. At a time where the patience of the average person online is at an all-time low, even slight performance issues can cause a visitor to grow frustrated and bounce to a competitors site. For all the same reasons that uptime is critical (lost revenue, lost customers and damaged reputation) website performance is just as important.
How long does it take your home page and category and product pages to load and how does that load time compare to the average of top ranking websites? How does your site handle increased traffic and does its performance take a hit when the number of visitors starts climbing? These are all highly important questions for an eCommerce director to answer and, if need be, address. Modern dynamic caching techniques, like doughnut hole caching, are worth looking at to optimize page load speeds. Look to your partner to help you understand the opportunities on your site to utilize dynamic caching. The reduced time it takes to load your pages can be dramatic and the improved shopping experience will provide an increase in overall sales and customer satisfaction.
The Importance of Security
Cyber-criminals who prey on eCommerce websites in order to steal customers' payment information are becoming increasingly common. As the popularity of online shopping continues to rise, so does the frequency at which these crimes occur. It's an unfortunate reality that has made many customers wary about which sites they punch their credit card numbers into.
While downtime and performance issues can both end up costing you customers and damaging your brand's reputation, nothing is more damaging than a customer having their information stolen from your site. It becomes crucially important, then, that you ensure your website's security is top-notch.
Improving your website's security by layering firewalls, performing regular PCI scans, patching your system anytime a new version of a software you are using is released and training your employees on proper security protocols should indeed be standard practices in 2017. Businesses are also choosing to display "trust badges" on their websites to broadcast to shoppers that they are employing name-brand security software to keep their information safe. According to some studies, a number of businesses who put trust badges up on their website reported seeing double-digit increases in conversion rates. Look to work with a partner that provides security monitoring and threat mitigation 24/7/365 as part of their offerings. You and your IT staff will sleep better knowing you have dedicated security professionals out there watching your back.
Making the Most of UPS (Uptime, Performance & Security)
Today, the role of an eCommerce directors is a multi-faceted one that extends well beyond just sales and marketing. In order to provide your customers with a seamless experience and build the trust that they have in your brand, you will want to make sure you are putting plenty of emphasis on your website's uptime, performance and security.