Monitoring: The Sixth Sense for Retailing Online
The start of fall signals many things – from leaves changing to pumpkin flavored food, but it also means that retailers are that much closer to the busiest time of the year – the holiday season. With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and last-minute holiday shopping, retailers experience more traffic during these weeks than any other time of the year. In fact, 140 million Americans are expected to shop in stores or online beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving.
While all retailers face an increase in shoppers, online retailers must deal with the influx of traffic in a different way – they must be able to handle the increase in orders and deliveries, all while ensuring customers have a positive experience shopping on their site. While a positive experience means customers are more likely to return, online retailers are rarely able to see exactly what the customer is experiencing on the other end.
To have those extra pair of eyes on all applications, as well as a way to make the entire online shopping experience better – from searching to checkout, online retailers can deploy monitoring technology. Monitoring technology is the use of a system that constantly monitors a website or applications for slow or failing components and notifies the system administrator in case of issues or outages. In the past, traditional monitoring has been difficult to implement, but that is no longer the case. New technology available in the cloud makes it a much simpler and overall easier process.
Creating a seamless experience
According to research from PWC, 12 percent of the overall US retail market will be made up of online stores or “wall-less” stores by 2020. This means that online retailers are increasing in popularity among consumers who are looking for the convenience of not having to leave home and have a desire for more options than found in a typical brick and mortar store.
In order to become a consumer favorite, online retailers are tasked with making personal connections without actually interacting with the customer face-to-face, and one way to do this is to ensure a positive virtual customer experience. Creating a strong customer experience online can be done in many ways, whether it be with a chat function or an easy check-out process. However, the most important aspect is to make sure the customer enjoys a seamless online experience.
Monitoring technology is a sixth sense for online retailers. When implemented correctly, monitoring technology can identify a malfunction, website downtime or slow performance. Ultimately, it spots any problem on the website that a retailer does not see before a customer does, which keeps the website running properly and encourages customers to stay on the site longer, with the ultimate goal of having them complete a purchase.
Sorting through the noise
Monitoring technology can be compared to a recording device that records everything that happens, but when it comes across something out of the ordinary, it will generate an alert. This alert provides a heads up to IT staff, allowing them to investigate the issue further and if needed, initiate remediation measures.
When preparing for anticipated web traffic spikes it is wise to run a set of tests including:
- Web load test – This is a “must-have” test for online retailers. It tests a retailer’s website to determine how the system responds to heavy traffic on the site, ensuring that the site is ready for the holiday shopping season’s influx of visitors, or an unexpected increase in traffic.
- Scenario load test – While a simple web load test is a very precise method to measure how many concurring users a site may handle; it does not provide insight into what will happen when users execute transactions on a specific page. A scenario load test makes sure that that all parts of the website are robust enough to hold visitors, including the transactions that provide revenue.
- Vulnerability scan analysis – Online retailers need the ability to evaluate the effectiveness of the website’s security, as well as have the ability to find holes that may be easy targets for hackers. In short, it ensures that all customer information – from names to credit card numbers – are kept safe.
Another important factor to consider when choosing the right technology is to ensure it runs in the cloud. With cloud-based monitoring the implementation can be up and running in minutes and gives retailers the ability to monitor their sites from multiple locations.
Getting a jumpstart
A website that has a second or two delay in responding and building pages can cost the business millions in lost revenues, while a slow or failed transaction will drive customers away to the competition in the blink of an eye. Before the holiday season takes a toll on a website, retailers can run the aforementioned tests to prevent any delays during a spike in traffic – ensuring they are ready for one of the busiest times of the year for online retailers.
In PWC’s report mentioned above, it was found that retailers that leverage technology and have more enhanced customer service models will see more success in the future years – and this is especially important for online retailers. Implementing the correct technology, like a monitoring technology, will ensure online retailers keep customers happy and will continue to grow in years to come.
Reaping the benefits
Leveraging technology is not only important to customer service, but also to the company as a whole. Monitoring is a factor that can give organizations the edge over their competition. In fact, online retailers are expected to spend $190 billion on IT before the year ends as technology increasingly becomes the backbone of an organization, as well as offers a competitive advantage.
Ultimately, monitoring technology helps companies ensure that everything runs smoothly for the end user, which is what the retail industry is all about. From selling a quality product to keeping the website running smoothly, online retailers know that the customer comes first. Having that “sixth sense” to see what the customer views helps to ensure a stronger relationship between a retailer and its customers.
Lusine Khachatryan is the director of technology and operations at Monitis where she oversees product development, R&D, IT operations, technical support, sales and marketing. Previously, Khachatryan was the head of the development department and a software developer at Monitis. Khachatryan holds a master’s degree in computer science and applied mathematics from Yerevan State University.
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