For as long as anyone can remember the US Thanksgiving Weekend has served as the unofficial kickoff for the holiday shopping season. The retail industry has actually crowned 2 days for marking this transition: “Black Friday” and “Cyber-Monday” are traditionally the biggest online spending days of the year.
Because this is the best season for retailers, business owners need to do everything possible to ensure their store is “holiday ready.” Online sales are expected to break records for the 2016 holiday season with $100 billion in revenue. Therefore it’s paramount to prepare your ecommerce site for the increased demands of the Black Friday and Cyber-Monday shopping rush.
Planning well ahead is always best, but even if you feel behind the curve (as most retailers do this time of the year) it’s important to ensure your bases are covered. Adopting the following 7 quick optimization tips can go a long way towards giving you and your customers peace of mind . . . not only on Black Friday but throughout the entire holiday shopping season.
Make Sure Your Site Is “Mobile First”
It used to be that mobile visitors were seen as the fastest growing segment of ecommerce. But the landscape has changed and mobile is now dominant across the board for consumers.
Businesses now have to think strategically in terms of m-commerce, and absolutely must be mobile first. If you don’t believe it, just consider that mobile commerce transactions in the United States alone will total $123 billion in 2016.
The 2016 holiday season is expected to be the final cap on a watershed year for mobile. The amount of purchases made on smartphones and tablets grew by a staggering 59% during the 2015 holiday season compared to 2014. Some estimates suggest mobile commerce will grow by as much as 60% this holiday season.
Is your business ready?
Check Your Webpage Download Times
A major reason consumers shop online during the holidays is to avoid the hassle of long lines in the stores. Who can blame them? But you don’t want to exchange one form of punishment for another. This means ecommerce sites must do everything possible to ensure their customers don’t have to wait for webpages to download.
There’s a direct connection between web load speed and sales conversions. Findings indicate that a 2-second delay during a transaction results in shopping cart abandonment rates of up to 87%. Several years ago ecommerce giant Amazon calculated that a webpage load slowdown of just one second could cost it $1.6 billion in sales each year.
Expectations are even higher on mobile sites. Consider that 57% mobile customers will abandon a site if they have to wait 3 seconds for it to load.
Major take-away here: you can’t overestimate the importance of load times for e-commerce and m-commerce shoppers.
Check Your Web Hosting
When thinking about your uptime strategy you also want to keep tabs on your web hosting service. They may offer you unlimited bandwidth but does that mean shared service with other sites that ends up affecting your own web performance? Are you frequently experiencing downtime or bandwidth issues? If so, it’s worthwhile to review your hosting options to ensure you’re getting the most efficient service. Don’t be afraid to insist on 99.99% uptime at all times.
Ramp Up Transaction Monitoring
A critical step for any ecommerce website is synthetic transaction monitoring. This involves deploying behavioral scripts in a web browser to simulate the path an end-user takes through a website.
There are many advantages to transaction monitoring such as testing new products before launch, finding out how your site compares to your competitor’s site, and overall troubleshooting.
It’s a good idea to add transaction scripts to your monitoring strategy as the 2016 holiday shopping season kicks into high gear.
Reduce Image Size
E-commerce sites obviously rely heavily on images and videos to display their products and make their sales. But remember that all of these images have to download and that takes time. Page bloat – or the practice of cramming websites with high density images – has gotten out of hand in recent years and is the number one culprit for long page loading times.
One of the best ways to ensure proper image optimization is to adopt correct sizing and formatting for all your images. The more you optimize your ecommerce site on the front-end, the better the performance and overall user experience will be.
Check Your Security
Unfortunately, we’ve seen too many examples of serious corporate website breaches over the past couple years. No ecommerce business can afford to skimp on security and infrastructure protection. A serious hack could result in irreparable damage to your brand, increased expenses, and decreased revenue.
Going the extra mile to make sure your website is HTTPS enabled. Having a SSL certificate with brands like VeriSign, Symantec, or GeoTrust will put your customers at ease and give them confidence that your ecommerce website is a safe and secure place to do business.
Stress Test Your Website
As its name implies, stress testing (otherwise – load testing) is a critical way to check website performance strength by putting a large strain on it to see how things behave under high traffic situations . . . like Black Friday.
This is an important way to mitigate risks. Load test multiple steps of any crucial nodes and transactions on your website with ready to use script or a tailored script for your own scenario.
If you’d like overall best in class website monitoring and load testing, then you’ll want to look into the Monitis Web Stress Tester. It’s important to know exactly what to expect during holiday shopping rushes and other seasonal spikes.
Knowing about the issues before they strike means you can be proactive rather than reactive. This is good for you and your business and ultimately leads to better performance and happier customers.