5 Things to Consider for Peak Holiday Mobile Performance
By Celeste Malia | December 21, 2015
The holidays are right around the corner, and along with the carols and chestnuts roasting on open fires come significant digital performance challenges. November through January is the biggest shopping period for all retailers, and in recent years e-commerce has become the go-to for busy, digitally enabled holiday gift-buyers. This year digital sales during the festive season are expected to rise by 13.9%, and one area in particular is seeing significant growth: mobile.
More and more consumers are using their smartphones and tablets when looking for gifts, relying on their devices to check prices while shopping in stores, look for deals, and purchase items on the go. As 23% of mobile commerce during the 2014 season occurred on mobile devices, retailers need to be prepared for the increased traffic to their sites and apps while finding new ways to encourage mobile browsers to hit buy. If they don’t, brands are risking losing a significant amount of business during the holidays, which ultimately can haunt a retailer’s reputation and revenue for the rest of the year.
However, not to fear, help is on the way! Here are 5 things retailers should consider when preparing their mobile strategy for the holiday shopping season:
1. Test, test, then test some more
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to perform extensive performance testing in preparation for the holiday season. With strong seasonal sales projected, the next couple months can be a make-it-or-break-it revenue period for ecommerce retailers. The proof is in customer outrage following non-seasonal digital hiccups (ahem, Target), and the shockingly large backlash that companies can experience following this type of outage. Not only is revenue lost, but also customers will often move on to another retailer without thinking twice.
Preparing for every possible user experience and identifying issues before they can inhibit buyers will ensure a happy holiday will be had by all.
2. Keep flair to a minimum (unless a lot of testing has been done)
It can be tempting to load up homepages with festive graphics and videos, but it’s even more important to ensure that the site’s extra flair doesn’t detract from loading speeds or performance. Application performance monitoring solutions can be a critical piece of the puzzle when dealing with mobile app “bloat”, allowing developers to pinpoint exactly where users are getting stuck so they are able to quickly make changes to improve the customer experience.
As 57% of consumers reported that they would leave a page that took more than three seconds to load, there is a real possibility to alienate potential customers with glacial speeds. When making a list, and checking it twice, put performance first and make sure that all new holiday-specific features are properly tested before going live.
3. Do some homework
Were there any significant mobile performance problems last November or December? If so, preventing the same issues should be a first priority. Make sure the development and QA teams are up to speed on last year’s problem so they’re ready to make the necessary updates before shoppers descend this year.
Additionally, making tweaks to the product displays on both the app and mobile site dramatically reduces the likelihood that performance could inhibit the sales of top-sellers and convince buyers to browse for other products. By displaying products projected to be the top selling items of the season on the homepage, customers are more seamlessly navigate to see what they want, reducing the opportunity for error.
4. Be extra diligent on major shopping days
It should not come as a surprise that mobile traffic will be especially high on popular holiday shopping days. Prepare for last-minute shoppers the week before Christmas and on weekends leading up to the big day. As consumers scour the web for one-day-only deals and double check prices before purchasing items in person at blowout sales, real-time performance monitoring will be key to combat issues that may arise from the extra traffic.
5. Keep it consistent
The key to attracting and retaining mobile consumers is providing a consistent and uninhibited user experience across platforms. Significant variations between a retailer’s app or mobile site and the desktop version may be off-putting to consumers, especially if the mobile experience is inferior. Perform cross-platform testing to ensure an optimal and familiar user experience to encourage purchases on all platforms.
A little preparation can ensure the holidays will be the most wonderful time of the year for retailers. With mobile predicted to rise to half of digital commerce revenue by 2017, this busy shopping season is the perfect time to fully commit to a comprehensive mobile strategy. Prioritizing performance and engaging in thorough testing can open up retailers to a whole new mobile demographic, but leaving it to chance can frustrate buyers and push them to look elsewhere for their stocking stuffers.