Is Brand Loyalty Enough to Overcome Web Challenges This ‘Dads and Grads’ Season?
’Tis the season to celebrate — whether it’s a recent grad moving on to a new adventure or a great dad who deserves a little extra love, June offers a time for families to celebrate together. Finding the perfect gift to embody all the emotions that come during "dads and grads" season is always a challenge for consumers, and it’s the perfect time for online retailers to shine.
Keeping customers enticed, engaged and loyal is the everlasting challenge for online retailers, especially in the “Age of Amazon.” But retailers have something immensely valuable that holidays like Father’s Day and graduations evoke from consumers when done properly — brand loyalty. In stark contrast to Amazon, whose positioning and strategy have always appealed to the rational side of consumers looking for convenience and efficiency, most e-tailers have invested significant time and resources into taking a more personal, emotional approach to connect with their customers. This season offers e-tailers the unique opportunity to boost online sales by capitalizing on the connection that their brand can offer consumers with unique offerings and an emotional connection that supersedes that of Amazon.
However, the key to unlocking this opportunity is performance.
Brand loyalty gets consumers to the door, ready to try the handle. However, if online retailers make it difficult for them to open the door, they simply leave and choose a new path. To make it as easy as possible for consumers to choose your brand and complete their purchase, optimize website performance continuously; that way the process can be seamless, painless and enjoyable.
Continuous performance improvement comes off as a vague, idealistic state of testing and operations processes, however, if done properly, it can help accelerate sales and sustain brand loyalty and perception. Instilling continuous performance improvement processes can be as simple as a few steps:
- Define performance expectations.
- Test your limits.
- Proactively monitor websites, web apps and APIs.
- Watch functional correctness of user journeys, not just availability.
- Set up targeted performance alerts.
The first step is to get everyone aligned on what success and, more importantly, what failure means to your organization. What do you think your performance limit is? Where do you think you can improve? What's a good baseline for performance so you know when deviations occur? All these questions help set your team up for success.
The next step is to test the agreed-upon limits. Use a performance testing tool to better understand the load and stress your websites and web applications can handle. This allows you to verify that your application can meet the desired performance objectives, which are often specified in a service level agreement (SLA). Measure response times, throughput rates, resource utilization levels, and identify your application’s breaking point, assuming that breaking point occurs below the peak load condition. Load testing helps check web server performance under a massive load, determine its robustness, and estimate its scalability. From there, you can optimize scalability and ensure that you’re ready for the consumer rush.
Proactive monitoring is absolutely essential. A process that's often forgotten or underestimated, proactive monitoring, or synthetic monitoring, empowers you to identify and remediate performance issues like degradations, deviations, blips or even downtime before end users experience the problem. Guarding digital performance by monitoring proactively can help you stay ahead of problems, ensuring that you’re able to provide consumers with the best process possible, making their shopping experience fast, easy and delightful. The best attribute about monitoring proactively is the ability to protect consumer experiences, retaining the positive perception of your brand, even if your team is putting out fires on the back end.
With proactive monitoring, you’re able to monitor user journeys — i.e., the processes users would take on your websites. Monitoring these interactions allows you to see the full picture. Each web application interaction, API call and website process is captured in these monitors. Armed with this data, operations teams have complete visibility into the performance of each moving part, so you know that you’re not only available, but that your websites are fast and functioning properly.
Finally, and most importantly, setting up targeted alerts can help make sure that when something goes wrong, the right person knows immediately. Whether it’s through group configurations, triggering and targeting alerts based on error codes, or getting alerts as tailored as possible, with actionable, contextual information, alerts set your team up for efficient remediation processes.
As most of us know, performance isn't a one-time event. It’s a continuous iteration of steps that help improve performance over time. Brand loyalty gets consumers to the door, but it’s up to you to be ready to open it for them. By defining performance, testing limits and monitoring efficiently, your testing and operations teams can ensure your website is ready for consumer traffic and your digital presence is stellar.
Saoirse Hinksmon is the digital content marketing manager at SmartBear, a provider of software quality tools.
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