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Why Performance Monitoring is Vital for Ecommerce

By Aaron Rudger | April 13, 2015

CATEGORIES: Web Performance

Ecommerce is clearly growing by leaps and bounds—in 2014, global online sales reached $1.47 trillion, according to emarketer.com. By 2017, in North America alone, online sales are projected to reach more than $660 billion. A popular reason consumers give for making purchases online is saving time. Of course, poor web performance can negate the convenience factor and make current and potential online customers shop elsewhere.

The impact of site crashes or slowdowns may not seem significant for many businesses, but for ecommerce sites, it can make a huge difference in your bottom line. Poor web performance negatively impacts customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as search engine rankings. This can be caused by dead links, slow loading pages, and outages. The following true-life scenarios give credence to why website performance and revenue are intrinsically linked, and why performance testing and monitoring is the only surefire method to prevent this from happening to your ecommerce site.

  • Best Buy's website temporarily went dark on Friday, November 28, 2014 (Black Friday), an embarrassing blunder for the electronics retailer on what is typically the biggest shopping day of the year. The one-hour outage was caused after a “concentrated spike in mobile traffic triggered issues” that required the company to temporarily take it offline.
  • As frenzied shoppers stormed Target stores to scoop up preppy floral prints from the much anticipated Lilly Pulitzer collection, the retailer was unprepared for the onslaught of traffic to its mobile app. While buyers caused massive traffic jams at the brick and mortar stores in the wee hours of Sunday, April 19, 2015, both the mobile app and the website promptly crashed. What ensued was a flurry of angry tweets that had #LillyforTarget trending at No. 1 all the way to India. That kind social media activity is definitely the kind of publicity an ecommerce site wants to avoid. In this case, the old adage, any publicity is good publicity does not ring true.

A key indicator of a successful business is ROI—which is dollars earned in sales revenue versus dollars spent on marketing. In the case of ecommerce sites, web and mobile performance are critical to generating a healthy ROI. Making your website customer centric is less challenging when you recognize the importance of utilizing performance testing and monitoring.

A few key tracking functions of performance monitoring include:

  • Number of visitors, tracked by second, hour, day, month, year, as well as the number of unique visitors, which can be measured by the same time criteria.
  • Geographic location of visitors
  • Referring sites, to reveal the websites from which visitors came
  • Entry page, so you can determine the web page visitors enter your site on, which contrary to what many people think, is not always the home page.
  • Pages viewed
  • Time spent on the website
  • Bounce rate, to reveal the number of visitors who access your website and leave it again without clicking further. This leads to questions such as: Is your site easy to navigate? Does it take long to load? Are there any broken links or images? Can your server handle increased traffic?
  • Exit pages, to enable you to determine the pages where visitors leave your site, which can be very revealing.
  • Type of traffic includes direct, which is visitors who typed your URL into their web browser; organic, which is visitors that found it via a search engine; referral, which is visitors who ended up on your site via links from outside your site; and repeat visitors.
  • Conversions are visitors who came to your site and became prospects or customers. This is really important for ecommerce sites.

A few key functions of performance testing include:

  • Scaling up test parameters to evaluate how equipped your site is to handle real time traffic surges.
  • Testing ever-evolving codes to see if they are robust enough to hold up under heavy traffic surges.
  • Determining traffic patterns so you can set up alternate Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) at traffic heavy locations.
  • Planning load balance factors, server strength, and caching duration to ensure a consistently high quality user experience.

To prevent less than optimal web performance from wreaking havoc on your bottom line and hard-earned reputation, consider employing a performance testing and monitoring strategy. Keynote’s active and real user site monitoring capabilities are integrated to give you a complete and actionable solution for identifying issues, as well as opportunities for improving your ecommerce site. And Keynote’s load testing solution helps you bullet-proof your site to withstand nearly any surge in traffic.

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