3 Lessons Retailers Can Learn From Whole Foods While Preparing for the Holiday Season
In August, after its deal to purchase Whole Foods had been finalized, Amazon.com announced widespread price cuts at the upscale grocery chain focused on organic and healthy food and beverages. Retail brands everywhere watched closely to see what impact those price cuts would have on both Whole Foods’ business as well as the industry. What we know now is that those price cuts increased foot traffic and online sales.
But what might be overlooked is how Whole Foods’ website performed during a period of increased interest and sales — similar to what most retailers could experience during the holidays.
My company, Shoppimon, this week published its inaugural Online Health & Usability Index (The OSHU Index) providing the e-commerce industry with benchmark rankings of top online retailers. These rankings are based on store site performance and shopability, and were developed using our artificial intelligence-based monitoring technology, which works by recognizing the key business workflows unique to each e-commerce site.
Our data shows that during the period when Whole Foods dropped prices, its site performed excellently. In fact, Whole Foods ranked No. 5 among almost 100 online sites we looked at. And like all the sites in the top 10, Whole Foods didn't have business downtime of more than .1 percent, and all had 0 percent server downtime during the time evaluated.
When prepping for a period of time with dramatically increased traffic, like the holiday season, there are a few tips that online retailers should keep in mind.
3 Tips Online Retailers Can Take From Whole Foods
1. It’s not too late to make sure your site is ready for the holidays.
It’s unclear how much time Whole Foods had to prepare for the price cuts, as well as what it did to optimize its site, but the site was clearly ready to handle increased traffic and interest.
Believe it or not, it’s not too late to optimize your e-commerce site for the holidays. However, it’s crucial that you know what problems you face, so monitoring now is a must. If you know what the potential problems are, you can take action, which is key to making sure your site performs at top functionality.
2. Don’t overhaul your whole site before a big rush like the holidays!
I've personally seen sites change almost everything right before the holiday season only to have functions fail catastrophically, leading to revenue losses. In fact, during the 2016 holiday season, we saw a company do a complete relaunch of its site just before Black Friday, following multiple delays. And just like with any major software release, there were multiple bugs, hiccups and bottlenecks leading to painful losses. In this case, unfortunately, it actually led to a full rollback of the store to allow for big updates before relaunching once again. All that at a time of year that normally accounts for more than 50 percent of the company’s annual income.
3. Do what you can to optimize your site now by discovering hidden issues.
Our OSHU Index looked at the performance of top site issues: average site speed, site slowdowns and their severity, site issues and their severity, and overall stability. We know these are the issues that affect sales and revenue. Our research shows that the average e-commerce store loses 13 percent of annual revenue to hidden site issues.
Interestingly, some of the biggest and best e-commerce sites in the world suffer from roughly the same number of issues on average as SMBs. That tells us the problem of visibility into overall store health is industrywide.
Having the resources to support massive manual projects, complex monitoring solutions and more isn’t fixing the problem — or stopping the loss associated with website problems. Things like missing CSS files, missing major product images, broken search and more happen to the big sites just like they the smaller mom-and-pop shops.
Therefore, I recommend that online retailers try to discover these issues now.
Roy Rosinnes is the CEO and co-founder of Shoppimon, an e-commerce performance monitoring platform.
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