The holiday season is a stressful, yet lucrative time of year for retailers, and all the more so for online retailers. When this holiday season kicks into gear, retailers have to be ready for the significant uptick in customer traffic, especially when it comes to their online performance.
All 10 of the top 10 American retailers count on SOASTA to provide the mobile and Web monitoring tools required to ensure industry-best service year after year, even during their busiest season. This puts SOASTA in a paramount position to offer advice and direction as vendors ready themselves for the coming months. In this spirit, SOASTA has unveiled its Perform At Your Peak, Holiday 2014 Performance Training Guide, which provides essential information and insights particular to this time of year.
"Holiday shopping is the most important time of the year for e-commerce retailers globally, and with substantial consumer adoption of mobile and online shopping, retailers must deliver flawless experience to their customers," said our CEO Tim Lounibos. "Just a one second delay could cause an e-commerce site generating $10,000 a day to lose $250,000 annually. Delays and downtime during the holiday season could seriously impact revenue."
Downtime isn't the only costly issue that could affect retailers during the holiday season. We discovered that if a website takes more than three seconds to load, almost half of all customers – 40 percent – will simply abandon the page in favor of something faster. Retailers can't afford to lose clients and revenues in this manner, and for this reason, they must prepare for the holiday season accordingly to guarantee they have poised to provide the best services possible.
Holiday preparations: A year-round process
While it is no doubt key to prepare for the holiday season beforehand, many organizations don't realize that these readiness steps take place long before Thanksgiving and even Halloween. Included in SOASTA's Holiday 2014 Performance Training Guide are our top five performance tips for getting ready for the holidays, including advice for planning in the New Year, assessing performance in the spring, monitoring and load testing continuously throughout the year, and finally starting the marketing push.
- Plan at the Beginning of the Year: This step includes analyzing the historical data from last year's holiday season, recognizing the peak traffic periods and examining how even a one-second delay here could impact overall profits.
- Assess in the Spring: Here, retailers should take a look at their hardware, storage and database systems as well as their overall network to gauge its performance. Vendors should also ensure that their environment is secured from any threats and tune their applications and websites. These critical platforms should have an established performance baseline so that optimization and load tests are all the more beneficial.
- Monitor continuously: E-commerce companies should seek to measure their shoppers' overall experiences, the performance of their mobile and Web applications, as well as their traffic levels to get an insightful picture of their organization as a whole. These groups should also examine any single points of failure connected to third-party partners, including content delivery networks, payment gateways and advertising services, to guarantee that they are operating as they should.
- Load test continuously: Retailers should load test their systems throughout the year to ensure that resources are ready for traffic spikes and any potential for an issue around the holiday season is mitigated. These processes should include leveraging the cloud to test for traffic spikes and testing every system, even those that are traditionally overlooked.
- Begin the marketing push: Once the holiday season is approaching, organizations can begin their marketing operations. Within this step, plans should encompass campaign management, connecting with stakeholders and testing any and all promotions and discount pages. Vendors should also put a hold on any application changes and confirm earlier-predicted traffic scales. Finally, e-commerce firms should run a full-scale performance test in production to ensure that everything is ready for the holiday rush.
By following these tried and true steps in conjunction with the performance testing tools offered by SOASTA, retailers can guarantee that they are fully prepared for the holiday season and all the consumer traffic that comes with it. Last year, sales reached an astounding $1.735 billion on Cyber Monday alone, and this year is poised to shatter that record. Be ready for the rush and utilize the resources of the top 10 retailers in the U.S. with SOASTA.
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