By David Lindores, Technical Director, Eureka Solutions.
The recent festive period saw shoppers spend huge amounts, with consumers already spending an average of £220 each in online January sales alone.
The Christmas season and sales period saw a huge influx of customers looking to do their shopping online, which will test each and every retailers e-commerce systems resilience and performance. During its Black Friday sale retail giant Selfridges, was unable to meet the demand of visitors looking to visit the site, with many waiting online to be able to browse and purchase.
The New Year is a key time for retailers to reflect on their e-commerce systems performance over the peak season and make any changes required. In order to streamline and improve systems for the coming year. In this article I will explore how, retailers can often make a number of mistakes on their ecommerce platforms, and ultimately lose out on sales. I will also detail how retailers can act now to improve their platforms and increase customer satisfaction and sales.
Utilise marketing performance
Firstly, one of the biggest mistakes made by retailers is not investing in the marketing performance of their sites and missing out on crucial information about their customers. This data is goldust and by optimising the marketing performance of their site, retailers can explore their customers buying habits and interactions across multiple channels.
Businesses can then utilise their marketing performance in order to effectively target their customers and maximise marketing ROI. In the run up to busy periods, such as the festive season, it is important that retailers have accurate data to better target their marketing efforts towards both current and potential customers.
Achieve efficiency across devices
It is also common for retailers to lack focus on the responsiveness of their sites and its level of efficiency across different devices. It is important for websites to be accessible through all devices in order for retailers to have the ability to serve customers anywhere and at any time.
Customers typically browse and purchase products across multiple platforms such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops. When the system is not capable of handling an elegant display across all platforms, the customer experience can be degraded, reducing the likelihood of the customer purchasing through the store. Retailers must therefore ensure that their ecommerce platforms are fully responsive and provide a fully optimised shopping experience across all devices.
Ensure a robust solution
It is critical that retailers prepare for busy periods and ensure they have a robust hosting solution. It can create a slow shopping experience when server cannot handle the sites traffic, and can even cause a complete server crash, which will lose sales completely.
This was displayed by Black Friday 2017 with GAME's sale launch. The retailer teased its festive deals online before they launched an hour later, however the website crashed within seconds of it going live and led to wasted marketing, a number of complaints and lost sales
Retailers need to anticipate the amount of traffic that their sites will receive over busy periods in order to ensure that they can cope with this increase and not miss out on time sensitive crucial sales.
Take control of business operations
A final mistake that retailers often make is track of their business operations and focus on the integration of their systems. Marketing data is typically held up in Customer Relationship Management systems, promotions are generally managed with the ecommerce store and products and pricing is monitored through the Enterprise Resource Planning systems. It is therefore vital that retailers keep their systems synchronised as this is often a logistical nightmare and it is common for mistakes to be made resulting in missing data from either system.
There is no doubt that retail infrastructure and platforms have come along way over the last few years, due to customer demand of easy, accessible purchasing. There is still plenty of room however for improvement. By being aware of these simple mistakes and taking steps to avoid them, retailers can ensure that they optimise their ecommerce platforms and learn from any previous issues encountered during busy periods. Through focusing on marketing performance, measuring efficiency across devices, implementing a robust hosting solution and taking control of business operations, retailers can make sure that they improve customer experience, improve efficiency and increase more importantly boost sales.