The prime factor in implementing online sales is commissioning an online platform that will attract, engage and trigger sales conversions. That is the aspiration. However platform fulfilment is merely the first step to achieving those online goals of optimum sales. There are many aspects and deliverables that contribute to a business appropriate ecommerce website. Developing the platform from scratch enables Webmasters and SEOs to construct a site that is customised and fully fit for purpose with all the deliverables fully integrated.
In building any business, including the bricks and mortar model, you usually need to do two things – inform people about it and ensure that your sales team are completely skilled up in selling the products. When Companies decide to expand their market reach with the help of an ecommerce site, providing its customers with the options of quickly and intuitively choosing, filtering and paying for products in a secure environment, their expectations of immediate success are usually high. Unfortunately early results can be disappointing especially if the site performance is below par. E Commerce is not necessarily a silver bullet for fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of ecommerce entrepreneurs. There are many reasons for slow response – the front runner usually being poor UX ecommerce website design which users find a real turn off. If they cannot find what they want in as few clicks as possible they will understandably go elsewhere to make that purchase. Once the consumer has left the site a sale is lost with little chance of re-targeting. Therein lies a major stumbling block to progress and growth. Your application must have an intuitive UX design, including easy navigation, for potential customers to stay long enough to click through and fulfil a purchase. Data analysis of customer habits suggests that on average they only have success with their purchases 56% of the time. That percentage could increase with improved usability by a whopping 79%.
If the platform is not properly designed and constructed around a clear set of objectives in the first instance then it is unlikely to meet customer expectations. Consumer search and fulfilment requirements demand instant precise and relevant information from their search query, an intuitive shopping experience and a fast secure pathway to order fulfilment, shipping and payment – all in lightning fast download times. Anything less and your ecommerce platform is designed to fail.
With a capable platform in place you can then fine tune it to improve its performance, to attract and retain potential customers and to increase online sales. Do remember however that your product must also measure up to customer expectations. Without that all important element of any successful online business your ecommerce platform will certainly be no silver bullet in flogging a dead horse.
With a professional compliant and secure platform in place you can certainly take measures to improve its selling capability.
E Commerce performance
Success can be improved with 6 steps:
Do not overload the network unnecessarily
Network overload is the next greatest problem after information overload and requires managing. Social networks seem to remain walled gardens with open source solutions not offering any real integration across social networks. A community dashboard would be really handy across all the social networks but is unavailable at present. Some social bookmarking websites such as “delicious” create more relevance through a straightforward tag. If your network speeds are slow it affects the Development Operations and Business Teams as much as the network engineering side. It is imperative to know what exactly is slowing the system so corrective action can be taken. There are ten elements that could possibly be contributing to the problem of network overload. When addressed you can avert network congestion in future :
- An over abundance of hosts in the network structure.
- Too many simultaneous requests on the network such as on Black Friday leading to overload.
- Congestion through low bandwidth, for example when Netflix is taking up 40% of the internet or during optimal TV streaming hours.
- Hub connection point is a location for congestion – A suggestion is to consider how best to integrate the hub into the internet to avoid this issue..
- Multicasting is simultaneous transmission of two packages causing collision and network congestion. Too many computers communicating at the same time can be a prime cause of network overload. It may be worth taking a look at “ Anycast” as a possible solution.
- Hardware such as switches, routers, servers and Internet exchanges may need updated if they are causing a funnel or bottleneck in the system for data transmission.
- Poor configuration management where a network is not maintained or an engineer introduces a virus into the system when working on repetitive scripts.
- Foreign devices on your network. A rogue adapter or hacker accesses the network through an entry point or error. Unwanted devices can slow down the network unexpectedly.
- Border Gateway Protocol which sends information, directs traffic by the shortest logical route irrespective of how much traffic is currently travelling on that pathway. Network overload in this instance creates slower internet speeds.
- ISPs can dictate just how fast they send traffic over its networks and can be a cause of artificial congestion again slowing down the internet.
2 Curtail the number of HTTP errors internally
There are many situations that could cause a server to answer a request with an error code. If you know the 5x three digit codes you will have some idea from a system administrator perspective. The first digit will immediately identify the class of a status code for example: 1 = informational, 2= Success, 3=Redirection,4= Client Error, 5= Server Error and point administrators in the right direction when errors are flagged up. A more thorough analysis is necessary to pinpoint the actual cause and to correct it. Always start by checking that your servers are healthy and save yourself time in finding error causes, as this is generally where faults occur.
3 Improve backend performance
Improve site speeds with more and faster servers. Also evaluate how your site loads – its content, such as photos, text, and prices. A customisable dashboard will give you an overview of various aspects of your website such as: out of stock items, information requests, sales figures and ecommerce performance metrics. With administrative management you can give team members administrative control and restrict the areas they can view or edit. You should have meta data control enabling optimising for certain keywords in the Search Engines. The back end should also allow you to upload a robots.txt to control site page crawling and indexing for SERPs and a sitemap to ensure all the relevant pages are being indexed for Search Engine page ranking. Tracking Code on each page will compress timelines avoiding the need to deploy a web developer each time work is required. Your store management software should allow editing of categories and sub-categories as well as product colours, sizes and descriptions. Order management is essential to enable tracking and status of sales, shipping orders and customer information. You can use a profiler tool to analyse how a system is working and identify the congestion bottlenecks so corrective action can be initiated immediately with little down time.
4 Understand your customers
This can be achieved through mapping customer onsite behaviour so you can better meet the needs of both men and women on their purchase journey. Adequate quality product information is a must for the online shopper today who wants to be fully informed before making that all important decision to purchase. Since shoppers are browsing on many different devices and across channels, the majority moving from mobile to desk-top to finish the transaction, it is imperative to adapt a multi screen approach to accommodate these online customer behavioural patterns. Make sure you have an ecommerce hosting plan that performs to optimal standards with websites ranging from small enterprises to large corporate retail and wholesale platforms. Customers now want to literally buy in one click so you have to ensure your site can respond to that demand or risk losing business into the future.
5 Make sure your ecommerce is scalable
Having a scalable ecommerce database your ecommerce website can evolve and grow to meet increasing business demand to expand. Its database will affect its scalability directly so it is essential that the database accommodates relationships expansion without IT intervention to make it happen. Scalability could be improved with a cloud based database as it grows exponentially along with the business. You have to be aware of the maximum load your database can handle based on your system so look at locking and input/output speed. Enabling indexing and intelligent caching can also help increase scalability especially in handling very frequent transactions. The lesson is – at site construction stage, implement a database that is fit for purpose going forward.
6 Use conversion metrics to analyse and understand sales results through the conversion rate.
Based on this data you can make better informed decisions on content marketing strategies and SEO campaigns to optimise performance and harness sales conversions into the future.
The bottom line is get to know the workings of your ecommerce website so you understand the basic principles behind its development and have some appreciation of requirements for its success from both a digital and business perspective. You will then appreciate that it is a sales tool requiring tweaking, from time to time, to get the most out of it.
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