While some customers take an amazing online shopping experience for granted, many will leave in a heartbeat if an eCommerce store gets it wrong.
And there are a lot of things that can go wrong, unfortunately.
Customers want personalization at every point of their interaction with you, from how your website looks, to how secure it is and how fast it loads (and everything in between). Are you prepared to give them what they need, when they need it?
Below you’ll find seven common uptime challenges you may face, ways to solve them, some thoughts from experts in the field of eCommerce, and our Environment as a Service solution that can help.
Common eCommerce Website Uptime Challenges & How to Solve Them
Due to the high number of online transactions that eCommerce stores deal with, they’re a target for cyberattacks. Using an HTTP website instead of an HTTPS is a major roadblock for your site, especially when asking for sensitive information like a customers’ credit card information. Add an SSL certificate to switch to HTTPS and make it harder for cyber attackers to access your website. You may also set up higher monitoring frequency and invest in tools to monitor website uptime with HTTP and HTTPS checks.
Matt Weidle, a Business Development Manager at Buyer’s Guide, says that “cybersecurity is a serious issue. It’s one thing to keep systems online and accessible; it’s another to maintain them backed up and safe. To meet client objectives, I believe you must achieve both.”
Another contributor to a security gap in your eCommerce site is a poor payment gateway. Such payment gateways can lead to less trust in your business and brand, lower sales, and an overall worse customer experience. Choose the best payment gateway option for your customers and your business to handle transactions better.
Your website should load fast, regardless of the browser or device it loads on. If your checkout page is even slightly slower than that of a competitors’, you’ll inevitably lose customers. And the longer your website takes to load, the more the bounce rate will go up. A higher bounce rate tells search engines that potential customers don’t find the content helpful, so inevitably, the rankings slip. Keep in mind that even a one-second delay can reduce page views by 11%, decrease customer satisfaction by 16%, and reduce conversions by 7%.
Web hosting and uptime are significant factors in this case. Different hosting companies have different uptime guarantees, but most businesses aim for at least three nines (99.9%), so choose one that guarantees that. Take a look at the table of nines included in our High Availability Architecture article for exact uptime calculations. Remember that 100% uptime is not an option as no system is entirely failsafe.
When picking a hosting company, take into account the functionality of their service, how they keep it updated, and their responsiveness to intervention should it be required. Once you’ve chosen a hosting company, choose the right hosting plan. A shared plan works well for small to medium-sized sites, but larger ones will have difficulty maintaining satisfactory speed.
Traffic and Visibility
If done right, setting up a website to guide more traffic and gain visibility for your online store should be easy. However, some factors might stand in the way of that. When a website is set up incorrectly, search engines will have a hard time finding you. Invest in good SEO techniques that showcase your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Google ranks more established and trustworthy sites higher than unknown ones.
Additionally, this is, again, where poor web hosting can affect the site. If your site gets a higher amount of traffic, an unreliable web host can affect traffic and sales by resulting in server glitches, slow loading pages, and website crashes. Consider a good cloud computing solution, such as an Environment as a Service (EaaS) provider, a more flexible and cost-efficient option over an in-house solution.
Sometimes, it’s not enough to have your site load quickly. A poorly performing website or app can cost you sales and hurt your reputation. By using different monitoring solutions, you’ll get valuable insights into where your customers might be experiencing issues, and you’ll be able to perfect the buying journey. Application performance monitoring tools ensure sites and apps are running efficiently. However, switching between too many monitoring tools can get overwhelming, especially for very busy sites, so tread cautiously.
Application performance monitoring is crucial to running an online enterprise, and synthetic transaction monitoring is especially valuable for eCommerce sites. You’ll be able to run automated tests to help you optimize your online strategy and discover bottlenecks within the transaction process without affecting customers. You can track things like logins, user registrations, comments, searches, cart checkouts, and more. EaaS helps immensely in this case, allowing businesses to periodically check their website’s performance in the live environment as the site experiences different workloads, network latencies, and traffic at different times.
Additionally, you may analyze your visitor’s behavior with real-user monitoring (RUM). You’ll be able to collect information about how your visitors interact with your website or app, essentially letting you know how satisfied they are. RUM can analyze things like load times, performance trends, bounce rates, and more. RUM and synthetic monitoring can work very well together. It’s crucial that you’re switching from manual testing to constant monitoring, regardless of which monitoring tools you choose for your site. Review and analyze the data from your monitoring tools so you can begin to spot trends over time.
Third-Party Apps and PlugIns
You’ve chosen your hosting provider and added an SSL certificate, but now it’s time to select plugins. Choosing safe and useful plugins for your site can seem overwhelming, especially when WordPress alone has over 50,000 plugins in its repository. WordPress accounts for over 30% of all websites, so around 455 million sites use it. To pick safe and useful plugins, look for compatibility factors. Popularity can sometimes be indicative of quality (but don’t rely on statistics about popularity alone). Just take a look at WooCommerce, the eCommerce plugin for WordPress, which topped the online store builder charts.
However, remember that plugins with a large user base or poor compatibility support can become targets for hacking attempts. Choose plugins based on security, especially with processing sensitive data, ensure the particular plugin fits your needs, and only use them if it’s necessary. For WordPress sites, take the following factors into consideration:
- New WordPress versions make it hard for plugin developers to keep up sometimes, creating compatibility problems
- Page speed can be impacted as some plugins can slow down your site (especially on mobile devices). Check out the publicly posted plugin reviews to find out about each plugin’s CPU usage
- Determine if the available plugin support is enough for you should it crash or the payment system fails.
Personalization and user experience (UX) are challenging in eCommerce. Don’t include complex checkout systems; instead, make the buying process as simple as possible for customers to pay you. John Webster, Owner of Mobitrix, says about UX that “no matter how easy it is to order on your platform, customers will complain. Hopefully, over a long enough period of time, you can address those complaints and get fewer and fewer of them, and more positive reviews.” Additionally, add a refund policy on your site for sales transparency.
You establish more trust with your visitors and make more sales on your site if you show them that you care about their experience. And with more people shopping online than ever before, 80% of them want personalized digital experiences from stores, and this includes the same experience on multiple types of devices. Mobile has consistently taken up about 50% of the world’s website traffic, so ensure your website is optimized for all mobile devices. Rameez Usmani, Tech & Security Expert at the Code Signing Store, states that “the approach should be to code initially for mobile users, then gradually improve the experience for tablets and PCs. As a result, the number of needless dependencies will be reduced.”
Another downfall for an eCommerce business is using starter templates. These make your online store look the same as others, and your site won’t get as much love, attention, or sales, as a custom-designed site will. At the same time, your layout should remain simple, organized, and easy to navigate for shopping online. Arrange your store to make it easy for visitors to navigate and find what they’re looking for.
Ryan Hsu, Founder of CareMax, says it best:
“The healthcare industry is always evolving, and as such, we’re constantly partnering with firms and vendors to keep up with the latest regulations. For us, uptime challenges include ensuring that our website is 100% compliant at all times. We work hard to secure compliance by continuously updating rules by refreshing our Terms & Conditions each year and ensuring all our contractors adhere to HIPAA regulations to minimize data breaches.”
Additionally, many eCommerce businesses buy and ship products or services across geographical borders. With an average of 57% of people making purchases from overseas retailers, regulatory compliance continues to be the main concern. If you’re unprepared, the higher customer expectations, the rapid evolution of technology, and the changing internal processes will become confusing, overwhelming and may reduce profits in the end. Be prepared with a centralized eCommerce solution to consolidate tracking and monitoring, connectivity, and key supply chain processes. You’ll increase reaction time, improve visibility, and streamline operations when issues occur.
Never Lose a Customer to Downtime - Use Bunnyshell
You’ve learned about some main uptime challenges that can occur at any point for an eCommerce business, but hopefully, you now have a better grasp on how to handle each situation as it comes.
Bunnyshell understands that software is now everywhere, and it has changed the way you shop, the way you work, and the way you stay connected to those who matter to you. As software continues to get more complex, Bunnyshell offers the perfect Environment as a Service solution to help you keep pace with an ever-changing digital landscape. Develop at the speed of the cloud while keeping costs under control, and deliver what matters for your customers.
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