Now that the dust has settled on the holiday season, it’s worth evaluating how websites performed. This is a period when retailers expect customer volumes to be high, as e-commerce traffic shows no sign of abating. In the UK an estimated £810m was spent online by British shoppers on Black Friday, according to internet retail experts IMRG, a figure that eclipsed the £650m splurge predicted for Cyber Monday, and potentially means Boxing Day has been usurped as the biggest shopping day of the year once store sales are taken into account.
The convenience provided by click-and-collect (around 17% of internet retail sales will be collected by customers in 2015, according to Mintel) and the ease of shopping on mobile devices is fuelling the emerging trend for last-minute online purchases. According to eMarketer, global e-commerce reached $1.3 trillion in 2014 – accounting for 5.9% of the total retail market worldwide. By 2018, that share is expected to increase to 8.8%. What all these statistics demonstrate is that websites are coming under increasing pressure to perform and not fall over, so how did they get on?
It’s interesting to have a look at a study conducted by Dell who monitored department stores, e-retailers and shopping websites to see how well they behaved on Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday. The main conclusion was that randomly selected, high profile sites, were not geared up for increased traffic. As you can see from the graphics many were taking far too long to respond, which ultimately results in lost revenue. As the blog concludes, not being sufficiently prepared is costly. It impacts your brand loyalty and results in lost revenue for the business.
Keynote also provides us with some useful data. Two notable lowlights are that w/e 30 November the Apple Store suffered from 4 hours outage time and that w/e 21 December eBay was down for 2 hours, what many would say is an eternity in this digital age.
Therefore, even though retailers recognise that they have to invest in their e-commerce infrastructure to keep up with demand, too many are still falling short and failing to provide online shoppers with a rich user experience and response time consistency which results in revenue growth and a loyal customer base. Admittedly, we are entering into unchartered waters in relation to online volumes, but the sooner retailers get to grips with current infrastructure inadequacies the sooner they will be able to harvest the benefits of the irrefutable e-commerce onslaught.