Black Friday

Ahh the Holidays. That wonderful time of the year that fills us with joy, happiness, and sets our innate primal consumer instincts ablaze. Serious shoppers will do just about anything for that one out-of-this-world bargain. They happily abandon family gatherings, stand in lines that wrap around a building two or three times, fight-off horrific weather or, even worse, other competitive shoppers.

The holiday battleground has extended its reach from brick-and-mortar locations to the devices in your possession, hence the shopping boom experienced from Black Friday extending to Cyber Monday. Forrester Research predicts an annual online shopping growth rate of nearly 10% through 2018. Assuming that prediction is correct, the average consumer will spend roughly $2,000 in online shopping by 2018! That means, a potential of $461 billion in online spending alone!

Clearly, retailers will be fighting furiously for every slice of that $461 billion pie. In order to accommodate those demanding customer expectations, it’s more important during the holiday season for the entire organization to be on the same page; from executives to marketing to development. Customers, more than ever, have increasingly growing demands for online experiences and less patience for distractions or loading lags while shopping.

To show just how detrimental downtime can be for e-retail sites, we created an infographic to demonstrate the true business impact of website performance issues during the holiday shopping season. For example, based on industry surveys, Gartner found that each minute of downtime can cost companies up to $5,600, which extrapolates to well over $300K an hour! Additionally, Radware published data sharing that consumers will typically only wait about four seconds before abandoning a slow web page. That can equate to quite a few lost sales. Check out our infographic for the full story:

These high customer expectations put a tremendous level of stress on the DevOps teams to ensure visitors to their sites have a consistent, functional experience across every platform (whether the e-retail site is being accessed via phone, tablet or desktop). When asking your dev and test teams how they plan to accommodate customer expectations, they will all respond with a resounding, “Easier said, than done!”

The rationale behind their answer is understandable and yet as cloudy as a mid-western blizzard about to dump three feet of snow on all those holiday shoppers. The holiday shopping storm is made of an ever increasing variety of smartphones, tablets, laptops and wearables all running different operating systems and browsers (aka user profiles). Every customer has different shopping habits, browsing preferences and, most importantly, purchasing techniques, which according latest IBM Online Holiday Mobile Shopping Report1, are heavily influenced by the screen size and performance of the device and varies across the globe! For instance, the bounce rate while in the UK smartphones and tablets have a 36% and 29% bounce rates respectively, in the US shows 41% and 33% respectively!

So, what does it take for retailers to have a better answer? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Leverage web traffic data to help prioritize user profiles, with the emphasis on the right customers. That will help minimize the testing efforts to get things properly verified, for your defined audience.
  2. Provide testing automation tools that enable both functional and performance/load testing across all the different user profiles and network conditions to minimize the time taken from finding to fixing any possible issues.
  3. Use the cloud as a way to reduce the costs of running tests that can accurately represent the volume and the diversity of user profiles required by your business priorities.

While the details above will prove to be a valuable start for your organization this holiday season, the best gift you can give your customer is knowing what they want. DevOps and testing teams need to minimize their risk and build brand loyalty by spending their time developing and testing the features customers want. Providing a consistent, functional and appealing experience will attract shoppers to your website and winning customers well after the holiday season is over.

Sources:

  1. Growth in online shopping
    Source: Testing times in eCommerce white paper – based on Forester research: Forrester Research Online Retail Forecast, 2013 To 2018 (US) www.forrester.com
  2. Shift in customer expectations
    Source: www.webperformancetoday.com
  3. Websites getting slower:
    Source: HTTP Archive – as mentioned in www.borland.com/Blog/July-2015/is-it-me-or-is-the-web-getting-slower
  4. Most popular web browsers
    Source: GS.statcounter.com as referenced in Borland’s ‘The Cross-browser configuration conundrum’ white paper
  5. Total number of digital buyers:
    Source: www.statista.com
  6. Added weight:
    Source: www.worldwidewebsize.com and http://www.borland.com/Blog/July-2015/is-it-me-or-is-the-web-getting-slower
  7. Impact of a one second improvement/delay
    Source: http://www.slideshare.net/Radware/radware-sotu-winter2014infographicwebperformance – based on the research from Strange loop networks: the impact of HTML delay on mobile and business metrics
  8. Black Friday total spend
    Source: Time Magazine
  9. Average cost per minute of downtime
    Source: Gartner
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