Guest Column | April 4, 2018

Don't Underestimate The Importance Of Monitoring Your Consumer's Experience

By Shannon Kendrick, Market America | SHOP.COM

Don’t Underestimate The Importance Of Monitoring Your Consumer’s Experience Image

E-commerce companies need a multi-pronged approach to monitoring systems and maintaining visibility during a customer’s experience — all the way through to the checkout process. Successful companies know a positive, trouble-free customer experience and fast page load times lead to increased revenue.

Recent studies found consumers expect websites to load in under three seconds and the global average for Black Friday, 2017 was 2.5 seconds. In addition to increased revenue, reduced page load times are crucial for maintaining positive conversion rates. Studies found even a one second delay can reduce conversion rates by 7 percent, and an overwhelming 79 percent of consumers said they will not purchase from a website again if they run into any kind of issue.

Poor website performance and reputation can lead to search engines penalizing your website results and making it increasingly difficult for consumers to find your website and products. Google, for example, will reduce the number of crawlers to your website if the request takes longer than two seconds.

Companies must have multiple services in place for monitoring business critical systems and having insight to key performance and business metrics. It’s critical for businesses to have traditional monitoring tools, globally dispersed external monitoring services, threat monitoring, customer experience analytics, and error reporting tools. Knowing your website conversion rate is just as important as understanding your uptime when measuring key business decisions and the financial results.

There are an abundance of tools and services for achieving insight and monitoring systems. Careful consideration should be taken in creating a corporate monitoring strategy as many of the enterprise tools available are costly and can require large teams of employees to manage and operate them successfully.

One of the many factors contributing to the success of SHOP.COM is the diverse monitoring strategy employed by the company. In 2016, Internet Retailer ranked the SHOP.COM mobile site three out of 500 e-retailers for page load speed at 1.02 seconds.

Traditional Monitoring

Cloud computing has changed how companies monitor their critical systems. Many companies are now operating in a hybrid cloud environment and must adapt how systems are monitored. There are many traditional infrastructure monitoring tools available to meet each organization’s budget, size, and particular need.

It is important to monitor core infrastructure systems such as servers, routers, switches, firewalls, and SAN, but traditional tools are not designed to work efficiently with cloud systems. When utilizing services such as software-a- a-service or platform-as-a-service, application performance monitoring is crucial to maintaining insight into performance and issues.

Cloud providers such as AWS and Azure offer specialized monitoring tools for most of their services. A good example of cloud monitoring tools available from Microsoft’s cloud solution is Azure Monitor and Azure Application Insights. Azure Application Insights is a particularly useful service due to its ability to monitor applications both in the cloud and on premise. Hardware and software vendors are providing the ability to companies to monitor workloads in the cloud and on-premises, as well as easily move between the two.

External Monitoring

Internal monitoring tools are valuable for the health of systems behind a firewall. However, external globally dispersed tools are crucial for insight beyond the data center. Only an external monitoring service can efficiently monitor metrics from a consumer perspective around the globe.

Performance metrics such as bandwidth, load times, DNS availability, and global performance metrics are available through companies that specialize in website monitoring. External monitoring services can deliver valuable alerts even when systems in the data center are unavailable. Organization’s that use a CDN such as Akamai benefit from external monitoring by measuring the performance of their globally dispersed content. Website monitoring services start out free with basic functionality and more advanced services can check items such as accessing globally from different web browsers.

Customer Experience Monitoring

Organizations that want a deep understanding of a consumer’s journey on their website know the importance of a customer experience analytics solution. SHOP.COM delivers a best in class customer experience by leveraging for consumer analytics and monitoring.

Even the best monitoring tools have a hard time capturing all errors or difficulty a consumer may encounter on a website. A customer experience solution identifies and helps organizations correct the hard-to-find website issues that result in lost revenue and conversion rates such as broken links.

One of the many valuable features available from UserReplay and similar solutions is the ability to view conversion funnels and identify the stages at which customers are abandoning your site. Visual heat maps are critical to identifying the more frequently used and converted areas of a site. The analytics from a customer experience solution enables organizations to easily quantify marketing efforts, improve support calls through session playback, and improve fraud and compliance efforts with a consumer’s complete journey documented.

Threat Monitoring

The recent increase of high-profile data breaches of large retailers brings a renewed awareness for the importance of security and effective monitoring. Methods of securing an organization’s systems are outside the realm of this article, however monitoring security threats is a critical portion of the overall security plan.

Traditional security solutions such as antivirus and IPS are valuable, but not enough for securing an e-commerce organization. E-commerce companies must have effective tools in place to monitor for DDOS attacks, BOT attacks, advanced malware, and hacking attempts. Monitoring security events using a Security Information Event Management (SIEM) is a must for analyzing security events and thwarting any data breach efforts.

About The Author

Shannon Kendrick serves as Vice President of Networks and Systems at Market America | SHOP.COM. Shannon joined Market America in 2011 and brought expertise working in technology for large Fortune 500 organizations. Shannon is responsible for all areas of Market America’s global technology infrastructure. Some of the areas Shannon oversees at Market America include; security, hardware, support services, storage, servers, web server administration, data protection, and network infrastructure.