How to Establish a Resilient E-Commerce Strategy
Many online retailers will look to keep customer experience (CX) at the core of their e-commerce strategy in 2023. And with rising consumer expectations, this priority is a step in the right direction. As customer expectations increase, so does the pressure to ensure optimal web performance. When an online retailer provides a fast, seamless and memorable experience to a consumer throughout their digital buying journey, this builds customer loyalty and satisfaction. In fact, 65 percent of American consumers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising.
A key component of CX is ensuring that one’s site is equipped to handle an influx of shoppers during peak traffic times, all while keeping disruptions and slow page loads at bay. This is especially essential for retailers, as they’re at an elevated risk of having application issues that can lead to customer satisfaction problems when compared to other industries. For example, about 61 percent of retailers report they saw lower customer satisfaction scores as a result of service-impacting issues in their application environment. It’s clear that even a few minutes of downtime can have lasting negative effects on a business and its brand credibility.
To take advantage of peak traffic times and more sales opportunities, online retailers must be equipped with the tools necessary to make the massive volumes of data work in their favor. Choppy web performance or slow, lagging page loads can diminish a consumer's perception of a retailer’s site and drive that person to shop at competing sites. And losing customers in such a highly competitive and fast-moving industry like e-commerce can be detrimental.
Building a Resilient E-Commerce Strategy
To remove friction, online retailers should go beyond simple monitoring and incorporate observability into their 2023 strategy. Observability is a modern approach to monitoring that provides a retailer complete visibility into their full stack of infrastructure, applications and the customer experience as a whole. Observability provides the insights needed to ensure continuous reliability and performance of the applications and infrastructure of a site. Observability tools enable brands — including those in e-commerce — to ensure their digital systems remain resilient during traffic spikes while also helping to accelerate the time for detecting and addressing issues.
Observability goes beyond just one use case, and forward-thinking e-commerce leaders should consider implementing synthetic monitoring and real user monitoring (RUM). These disciplines — both critical components of digital experience monitoring (DEM) and part of the observability toolset — focus on customer experience as the primary indicator of a system's performance and health. For example, synthetics can be utilized before any major upcoming holiday or peak shopping day to help an online retailer detect key site issues before shoppers will. Curious as to how? Let’s dive in below.
Visualize the Customer Buying Journey Through Synthetics
Synthetic monitoring is an approach to DEM that helps retail brands take on the role of their customer and visualize their site’s CX by emulating the paths a customer might take when shopping on their site. In a sense, it’s putting the retailer in the customer’s shoes. Synthetic monitoring allows users to generate synthetic traffic to simulate user behavior for different scenarios, geographic locations and device types. Through this simulation, online retailers can find and prevent web performance issues before the real customers encounter them. For example, it could be used to simulate the online path a user may take when browsing through categories of winter jackets on a clothing site, adding new items to their cart and then checking out. Additionally, synthetic monitoring can be combined with an automated optimization engine to help e-commerce brands find, fix and prevent web performance issues with more precision.
Pinpoint Application Problems More Efficiently Through Real User Monitoring (RUM)
Similarly, RUM is another important aspect to providing a smooth and cohesive CX. That’s because RUM enables site reliability engineers (SREs) and service owners, all who are responsible for fixing customer-facing issues, to pinpoint problems faster through end-to-end user session capture and analysis. Additionally, it provides visibility into how real users interact with an application, and can bridge the gap between application performance and its impact on user experience. Lastly, RUM measures the Core Web Vitals, the statistics that Google uses to determine page ranking.
In summary, a new year always brings an opportunity to reflect and improve. It’s a time to look back on what worked and what didn’t, and then leverage those lessons to invest in technology that establishes a more effective and resilient strategy going forward. When it comes to CX, observability gives retailers that leg up in resiliency. When a retail brand goes beyond monitoring and implements an observability practice, coupled with synthetics and RUM, it's creating an experience that can leave a lasting impression with customers.
Spiros Xanthos is the senior vice president and general manager of observability at Splunk, overseeing Splunk’s Observability product portfolio.
Related story: Tips for Nailing CX This Peak Season
Spiros Xanthos is the SVP and General Manager of Observability at Splunk, overseeing Splunk’s Observability product portfolio. Previously, he was the CEO and founder of Omnition, an Observability platform for cloud-native applications that pioneered no-sample tracing and co-created OpenTelemetry. Omnition was acquired by Splunk in September 2019.