Online retail war—A battle of data, system, & network Performance

Going into the second half of 2020, things are wholly different from the same time last year. The global pandemic has caused a fundamental shift in the way we buy and consume products as we adapt to a socially distant world. This has had a profound impact on retailers in particular, who have been forced to reconsider or even reinvent customer interactions and transactions.

The new reality: the battle for consumer dollars has shifted to the virtual frontier. According to research on consumer spending by Ernst & Young, online shoppers are buying more digitally due to COVID-19. A significant number began doing so for the first time during the outbreak.

In these times of uncertainty when every dollar counts, retailers must do more to ensure shoppers don’t abandon their carts. They may do so for a multitude of reasons well under the radar—from system malfunctions to security breaches potentially costing precious website uptime. Retailers need to minimise these dollars lost, but the question is “How?”

Would you believe it if I told you you can avoid the frenzy and ensure it’s all systems go by following a simple checklist?

Know the Battle Terrain

Before marching into the online retail war, retailers should better understand what makes their buyers tick. Consider your own personal shopping experiences, and you’ll realise there’s a myriad of reasons for abandoning carts. A simple, effective method to navigate this terrain is to employ application user experience monitoring tools designed to help retailers examine the key factors driving consumer traffic and interactions on their websites. These tools can draw correlations between network performance and consumer behaviour, so retailers can optimise site displays and functions to better engage with prospective customers. By getting into the heads of prospective customers and knowing their triggers, retailers will stand a fighting chance to ensure the customer journey extends beyond browsing.

Thorough Preparation Is Half the Battle

In Singapore, demand for online grocery and food delivery spiked about four to 10 times higher than before the outbreak. This is no surprise, as consumers have stockpiled their food inventory to prepare for the long-term fight against COVID-19. Retailers, however, have another battle to prepare for: system performance.

Speed of fulfilment is essential when it comes to purchasing perishables, and a server slowdown could be fatal to the shopper experience. In fact, slow load time is one of the leading causes of cart abandonment, leading to abandonment rates as high as 75%. To address these speed bumps, it’s crucial for retailers to respond to server slowdowns swiftly and pre-empt these potential scenarios from stalling the shopping experience.

One way to do so is by using server and application monitoring tools to survey system performance. This allows retailers the flexibility to set performance KPIs and thresholds unique to their system requirements and risk appetites to automate system health checks. Intelligent alerts flag warnings to IT administrators when applications approach critical thresholds or underperform, so retailers aren’t caught off guard by unforeseen downtime during sales wars.

Securing Your Base Camp

In the digital marketplace, security is another key determinant of cart abandonment. Whether it’s the security of your website or the payment platforms, consumers want to know they can trust your service. With the coronavirus outbreak shifting transactions online, consumers are trying out new payment methods for their online purchases, and they tend to favour the methods with the most robust protection against fraud losses.

With automated security patch management software, retailers can lower their security risks and limit service interruptions by ensuring their operating systems and applications are updated with the latest security features and upgrades. They can also generate system summary reports to highlight overall patch status, current deployment progress, and areas of vulnerabilities retailers should prioritise. This reduces the avenues for bad actors to infiltrate your database and siphon confidential customer information or cause network congestion due to malware activities. Safer transactions can encourage consumers to return to shop with the brand they trust.

Keeping All Movements on Your Radar

Now more than ever, retailers need to deliver an omnichannel experience so shoppers can access their products and services from the most convenient and salient customer touchpoints.Retailers today need to be on top of all activities across these channels, including their virtual storefronts and social media channels.

To combat this complexity, retailers can leverage log management tools to centralise the supervision, control, and execution of key system and network activities across these platforms. This allows these tools to effectively investigate machine data from multiple sources, accurately pinpoint the root cause of IT issues faster, and perform near real-time troubleshooting for any device across a complex and extensive network web. Simply put: fewer carts lost because of system malfunctions means more successful order conversions.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Any battalion is only as strong as the soldiers comprising it. Having a comprehensive system and network blueprint is only half the battle. It’s equally important for these systems to be supported by a reliable IT team, especially with operations mostly shifting online. These smart tools can’t be used without mobilising the web team, operations team, and development team to collaborate on monitoring users, metrics, tracing, and logs. By working in tandem to monitor and manage web and application environments, your IT team will be ready to effectively combat workload latency or server disruption compromising consumers’ shopping experience.

Focusing on user-centricity as a rallying point to optimise the customer journey, retailers can be better positioned to engage in the online retail war—and the collective fight against the pandemic.