Slow eCommerce Websites: The Ghost of Christmas Present
Why do we keep hearing about slow eCommerce websites during the holiday? eCommerce sales broke records this year, with almost $20B spent over the 5 days, according to Adobe Digital Insights. But slow page loading and outages once again derailed the holiday sales of several major websites. Most notable were H&M, Lowe’s, and The GAP. Is something unusual happening here?
No, this is not unusual. And there should be no lack of awareness of the issues. Back in July, Amazon woke the industry when a one hour slow down on Prime Day cost them millions in sales. And a recent survey of 125 eCommerce leaders showed that 64% of retailers conducted performance tuning before the holiday. So why do these problems keep happening?
2. Custom optimization projects
Retailers continue to rely on teams of developers to conduct quarterly or annual performance optimization projects. The average retailer spends more than $500,000 on these custom optimization projects each year, according to the 2017 eCommerce Leaders Survey: Site Performance & Innovation Trends report. This manual process tends to be more reactive, focusing on fixing known problems after they occur. Unfortunately, it’s the unexpected ones and that can lose you millions during the holiday. Would you make load balancing a manual process? Of course not, because it’s a mission-critical component of your eCommerce site.
Slow eCommerce websites: What needs to change?
Retailers need to revisit their biggest priorities for their website. I frame it in terms of the retailer’s “hierarchy of needs,” envisioned in the pyramid below (and stolen from Maslow).
Retailers today invest heavily in streamlining the customer journey and creating a rich shopping experience – the top of the pyramid. But often they are not getting the full return on those investments, because they have not built a strong enough foundation – the bottom of the pyramid. Translation: Slow eCommerce websites. And if the site isn’t fast, your customers will never see the special content, functionality, and recommendations you have invested in.
The eCommerce Pyramid of Needs
Fifteen years ago the foundational element of successful eCommerce was uptime and availability, and retailers addressed that. But now more customers are accessing eCommerce websites from mobile devices, and those websites are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, website speed is now a significant barrier to getting a customer into the shopping experience. In other words…speed and performance is the new uptime and availability.
And website speed doesn’t stop with your own web operations. The average eCommerce website uses more that 30 third party applications, and each of those vendors experiences the same peak volumes that you do during the holidays. What happens if one of those third party partners go down? Do you have visibility into which ones are causing the problem? Can you fix it without an emergency code release? If you don’t have good answers to these questions, you should be exploring eCommerce acceleration technologies that can deliver this visibility and control.
Foundation built on website speed