This year, we can expect to see increases in traffic as buyers start earlier and continue into the new year. [VAKSMANV / Adobe Stock]
You no longer have to wait until Thanksgiving to optimize your ecommerce site for increased holiday traffic. In fact, you shouldn’t. Between a extended holiday shopping season and sustained growth of e-commerce, retailers must be ready at all times. Ecommerce sites have grown to meet customer expectations with regular sales events and major promotions throughout the year, sometimes on a weekly basis. Last year, consumers spent $ 1.1 trillion online worldwide and $ 236 billion in the United States, compared to $ 723 billion worldwide and $ 165 billion in the United States in 2019.
This year, we can expect to see increases in traffic as buyers start earlier and continue into the New Year, splurging on everything from from luxury goods to items for social events. But if the past year and a half has taught us anything, it’s to be prepared for peak demand at all times – not just during the holidays. Anything can happen: another black swan event, a product goes viral on TikTok, or a flash sale attracts even more people.
Here’s what you can do to achieve peak e-commerce website performance levels throughout the year.
2021 holiday shopping season calls for 2021 strategies
Are you ready? Find out the tactics you need to be successful.
Optimize website speed for better performance
Consider that 40% of consumers will abandon a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
Each unnecessary data point has a negative impact on performance.
Frank Billing, Technical Account Manager, Salesforce
Unnecessary data and code can consume memory, slow page load times, trigger errors, and ultimately have a financial impact. “Every unnecessary data point has a negative impact on performance,” says Frank Billing, Technical Account Manager at Salesforce Customer Success Group.
To streamline the performance of your eCommerce website, clean up datasets and delete unused data at regular intervals. Follow the next steps:
Test, measure, refine and repeat
Monitor site metrics to establish a baseline measurement. Use load testing and apply performance test results to quality assurance (QA) processes. Continuously refine your model.
Regularly monitor site speed
Measure execution times on your website, including home and landing pages, product pages, shopping cart, checkout, and ordering. Compare the data to recommended best practices and resolve bottlenecks if necessary.
Check caching to make sure unused content is not blocking popular pages from being stored.
Keep an eye out for third-party integrations
Test QA failure scenarios, implement timeout features, and automate important notifications.
Convenience is key: 70% of consumers say it’s more important than the brand itself, even with a great reputation.
Prioritize eCommerce website performance over functionality
Help online shoppers have an intuitive shopping experience and make shopping easy. Convenience is the key: 70% of consumers say that it is more important than the brand itself, even with a great reputation.
Make sure the basic functions (think add to cart button) work perfectly under peak traffic conditions before adding other functionality that is not key revenue drivers.
Evaluate the impact of the new features on the performance of your ecommerce website before adding them. Only proceed if the effect is minimal and the increase in income is promising.
For added security, deploy what are known as “soft fail” triggers. These ensure that your platform’s resources are allocated for ordering and payment. With a software failure, you can prioritize the services and identify which secondary features to disable first.
Another option is to adopt a headless commerce architecture. Headless Commerce separates the back end from the front end of your storefront so you can instantly launch, update, and optimize eCommerce applications. Sales teams don’t have to wait weeks in the developer queue to instantly add new features, like buy online, pick up in store.
E-commerce is a benefit for retailers. Instead of an anonymous person making an in-store purchase, you can provide a more personalized experience online.
Frank Billing, Technical Account Manager, Salesforce
Incorporate custom touches
“E-commerce is a benefit for retailers. Instead of an anonymous person making an in-store purchase, you can provide a more personalized experience online with “known” customers, ”says Billing.
Indeed, 52% of customers expect offers to always be personalized. And in a “world without cookies“that matters more than ever. With Google eliminating third-party tracking in 2023, it’s especially important for retailers to use first-party data to understand a customer’s interests and intention to continue to deliver a personalized experience.
Artificial intelligence (AI) allows retailers to tailor each website visit to the individual preferences of shoppers. With AI, you can:
Add intuitive features like product recommendations, bundles and complete-the-set. For example, if a shopper is on a page looking for kids’ backpacks, complete accessories like hats might show up in the right rails. These features increase cart size and increase revenue.
Customize product search results based on behavior data. Retailers can offer style and size recommendations based on their past purchases.
Integrate an AI-powered chatbot to handle common customer service requests, such as initiating a return or the status of an order. This allows customer service agents to save time dealing with more complex cases.
Automate workflows in customer portals to empower buyers. This will speed up common processes such as creating return labels during peak demand.
Adopt a growth mindset
Adopt an attitude of continuous improvement by evaluating eCommerce website performance and customer feedback after each event. Use these inputs to iterate your ecommerce strategy to support changing preferences and build loyalty.
Deploy the client surveys after key moments throughout the buying journey, too. By gathering this data and incorporating the comments, you can continue to refine your experience on the site.
Your new and improved website is now up and running well beyond the holiday season.
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