While e-commerce was once just about duplicating the in-store experience, today it has evolved into so much more. Retailers are now expected to deliver fast, personalized shopping experiences featuring rich media and video on any device wherever and whenever the customer chooses. These changes have introduced a host of challenges for retailers, but they also offer significant opportunities to improve customer conversion and retention.
Scalability & Availability
Unfortunately, customer demand fluctuates throughout the year. The holiday shopping rush or the release of a hot new item may cause customer demand and the strain on your web infrastructure to spike. Meeting these spikes in demand makes the difference between capitalizing on the opportunity or losing potential revenue. In addition, unplanned downtime can significantly impact sales as customers may not wait for your site to come back online and decide to purchase elsewhere instead.
Your infrastructure needs to scale on demand to help support these spikes in traffic. It also needs to be redundant and geographically dispersed to overcome any potential issues or outages in a specific location. A recent outage of Amazon’s S3 cloud storage in a single location in Virginia impacted 54 of the top 100 US retailers according to the web monitoring company Apica. Companies that stored all of their content in that single location were not able to serve their customers. The financial impact to these retailers was significant. When deciding how to improve your e-commerce infrastructure, choose a partner such as Limelight who provides cost-free replication of all your web content in multiple locations and will serve content to your customers from the fastest location. This ensures optimal customer experiences and insulates you from failures of any portion of your content delivery infrastructure.
Recent consumer research by Limelight Networks shows 21% of consumers will abandon a website if pages take 3 seconds or longer to load. A report from Soasta found a 100-millisecond delay in load time can bring down conversion rates by up to 7%. Customers are increasingly expecting faster online shopping experiences.
Your content delivery infrastructure must have the scalability and reach to quickly serve customers from locations that are as close as possible to the customer. Caching of static content such as product images can significantly improve page-load times. In addition, middle-mile acceleration and support for the latest protocols such as HTTP/2 can greatly improve web performance. Another important consideration for ensuring the fastest online e-commerce experience is to choose a partner who has high cache efficiency for delivering static content, can serve content from multiple locations or quickly access cached content from another location, and the ability to optimize the delivery of content to a customer’s browser.
Customers are increasingly using mobile devices to make online purchases. comScore reported mobile commerce grew 44% during the 2016 holiday shopping period. Adobe reported mobile phones accounted for 36% of online shopping during the 2016 Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping weekend. Customers are increasingly using both mobile devices and desktop computers to perform research before making a purchase on the device of their choice or even in-store.
Customers expect a high-quality shopping experience on any connected device. A recent survey by Limelight Networks shows 50% of consumers expect web pages to load just as fast on a mobile device as on desktop or laptop. When choosing a content delivery partner, make sure they provide a high-quality experience for customers, regardless of the device type they are using. Capabilities such as Device identification with configurable actions based on results lets you customize content by device and accelerate site performance on mobile phones, tablets, PCs—virtually any type of device.
Malicious hacking, cyber-attacks, and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks have accelerated in frequency and scope. The NTT Group's 2016 Global Threat Intelligence Report indicates the retail industry faces more attacks than any other industry. In fact, retailers face three times as many attacks as the financial services industry, the second most targeted group. KPMG’s 2016 Consumer Loss Barometer survey indicates 19% of consumers would not go back to a retailer that has been hacked, even after the issue had been resolved.
Downtime and slowdowns from DDoS attacks cause lost revenue, while hacking and other security breaches can expose customer data and negatively impact your brand reputation and customer retention. Make sure your content delivery partner offers integrated security capabilities to help you monitor potential DDoS attacks as well as provide scrubbing of requests during attacks. In addition, deploy a Web Application Firewall (WAF) between your CDN and your origin web servers so it won’t impact the performance of your site. By doing this, only requests that need to be filled by your web servers (not requests for cached content) are inspected by the WAF, significantly improving performance while still providing maximum security.
Video & Rich Media
Customers increasingly expect an engaging online experience. Videos and other rich media make it easier to learn about products, gain additional insight, and instill confidence prior to purchase. In addition, technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) are starting to become more common. Many retailers are experimenting with VR to provide a more engaging online experience.
Recent research by Limelight Networks shows 79% of consumers are likely to recommend a brand to a friend if they had a positive experience with its web site. When choosing a content delivery partner, make sure they offer an integrated online video platform that makes it easy for you to upload and manage video content. Capabilities such as device detection at the network edge and identification of incoming requests allow automatic conversion of video content into the appropriate format for the customer’s device. In addition, auto-detection of a customer’s browser, OS, device, and connection speed make it easy to provide a rich video playback experience.
The Solution to Delivering Exceptional Customer Experiences
The pressure is on for retailers to provide exceptional online experiences that deliver the reliability, consistency, and performance customers demand while providing the security and availability you need. Limelight is here to make it easier to address these e-tail challenges and maximize revenue.
Webinar - Overcoming eTail Challenges to Deliver Exceptional Customer Experiences
Join Limelight Thursday, March 23rd at 2:00pm EDT for a live webinar as we review the technical challenges that impact your ability to deliver exceptional e-tail customer experiences and strategies for overcoming them.