Low-Cost Tips to Boost Online Holiday Sales
Forecasts for the holiday shopping season are mixed, but there are several steps retailers can take to protect and increase sales, meet their business goals, and build customer loyalty.
Making changes to a website doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money or months overhauling the site and operating platform. Tweaks can be made to increase sales and improve site performance and customer satisfaction that don’t cost a lot, and can be implemented in a matter of weeks. Consider the following three strategies:
- Understand the true cost of downtime and how to minimize website downtime and subsequent losses.
- Understand how site performance influences shoppers’ buying habits and what metrics retailers need to measure.
- Find cost effective and quick ways to deliver site search results that meet shoppers’ preferences and improve site usability.
While all online retailers have or will experience site downtime, they typically equate its impact on their businesses with lost sales. Lost sales, however, represent only a portion of the actual losses. The true cost of downtime includes increased customer service time, refunded and canceled orders, loss of customer loyalty, and the cost of bringing the site back online.
Systems failures not only result from failure of an application. They can be tied to failure of job functions, such as order processing, inventory updates and the integration of orders from online marketplaces such as Amazon.com.
When marketers have 10 critical applications or processes, even if each has an impressive 99.9 percent uptime, statistically this means that the expected downtime of the whole system is 1 percent. On an annual basis, that translates to 88 hours of downtime.
In monetary terms, an online store earning $10 million in revenue per year risks lost sales and associated costs of anywhere between $4,000 to $9,000 per hour (depending on specific company dynamics) when its business is incapacitated by a system outage. And given that it isn't uncommon for a company to generate 70 percent of annual sales during the two- to three-month holiday season, the total cost of 1 percent of annual downtime could be a staggering $800,000-plus.