5 Ways to Avoid the Grinch this Holiday Shopping Season

As the summer ends and we dig deeper into October, eCommerce professionals are finishing the process for pre-holiday shopping season preparation. Black Friday is just a handful of weeks away and there's a lot to do!

This year is likely to be a really big year for online commerce. Gian Fulgoni's recent update on the status of the US online retail economy in Q2 2012 shows us that the online channel is experiencing significant growth (+15%) despite consumer weakness. This bodes well for an exuberant online shopping season.

At AlertSite by SmartBear we spend a good bit of time helping websites deliver great user experiences and alerting stakeholders when they are not. In an effort to keep you sharp during the busy holiday season, I give you five ways to avoid the Grinch this holiday shopping season:

 

1) Benchmark

Benchmark your online store vs. key competitors. Benchmarking means far more than just comparing home page technical performance. You have to consider availability, technical performance, consistency, user experience and competitive comparisons. And that consideration needs to be for Home Page, Search Function, Product Detail Pages, and Add to Cart functions.

 2) Load Test

Ensuring that your web presence can scale to the amount of traffic you are expecting this holiday season is a job for load testing. Load testing is probably the best way to understand how your site will respond when many users are accessing it. What were your peak hour for unique visits or total page views last year? How will your store respond if you get 20% more traffic this year?

 3) Minimize 3rd Party Content Calls

Online retail sites are bursting with 3rd party calls and content for managing image rotation, visitor analytics, retargeting, product reviews, related product recommendation. The 3rd party providers that you are using are the same ones serving hundreds or thousands of other retail sites and they will all be under severe load during peak shopping days. Cutting back on the most peak days could help you deliver a better user experience than your competitors.

 4) Don't forget Mobile and APIs

The latest research from Google really shows what a multi-screen world we now live-in. Mobile accounted for only 9% of total online commerce revenue in Q2 this year, but Google's research is telling us that 65% of product search transactions are started on a mobile device. And let's not forget to apply the "reduce 3rd party calls" to the Mobile site as well!

 5) Plan B

Last, but certainly not least… have a back-up plan! Things can, and probably will, go wrong and when they do it's imperative to minimize those events on business results.

Now, are you sitting there staring at your screen thinking that I breezed through these topics a little too quickly? Don't you worry. Over the next few weeks I'll be diving in and sharing more details about each topic as Black Friday creeps closer. Follow these recommendations and you'll avoid the Grinch and keep the wind at your back this holiday season!

I'd love to hear your input. Find me @KenGodskind or comment below.

 

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