Here are 5 ways to prepare your business for the shopping surge this holiday season.
The holidays are almost here! And that means excitement, anxiety, and ... terror. ‘Tis the season that will likely make—or break—your company’s annual revenue goals.
The good news? The 2019 shopping season is set to be one for the books:
2019 U.S. holiday retail sales are expected to hit one trillion dollars—a first! (eMarketer), and ...
Of that thousand billion in sales, 13% will come from e-commerce.
In addition, 2019 brings another milestone: e-commerce will be mobile first at last! Yes, representing 52% of digital orders, mobile will—finally—eclipse desktop for the season. And in addition, a huge 7 out of 10 digital visits will come from a mobile device (Salesforce).
As for the rest of holiday sales, the impact of digital can't be understated: Over half of all sales are now digitally influenced according to Forrester and Deloitte. That means your digital shopping experience—that is, how your customers experience your e-commerce site or app—is now linchpin to your success … and whether or not your e-comm team has a happy holiday.
So what can you do today to ready your site—or app—for the coming shopping frenzy? Let's take a look ...
1. Begin at the End: Find and Fix Friction in the Checkout Flow
First things first: You’re so busy you only have time to focus on the most critical aspects of your digital shopping experience. Focus on doing the work that will boost KPIs and conversions to drive revenue.
Begin at the end. With the average cart abandonment rate cited at anywhere from 55% to 81%, even well optimized e-commerce sites are sure to have opportunities to improve.
Start by analyzing your checkout flow with your digital experience (DX) software of choice. (We’re partial to FullStory, of course.) Because FullStory stores and organizes user engagement down to on-page interactions—and even performance—it's easy to create a conversion funnel that strings together the digital behaviors you care about. You can even mix those digital experience events from FullStory with your own custom events (such as those from Tealium or Segment).
What you’ll end up with is a clear visualization of your funnel—and a few hints at where folks are dropping off.
For those with FullStory’s new Conversions product, you can use FullStory to analyze your funnels for you, illuminating statistically significant opportunities for improvement. For example, Conversions will reveal if a customer struggle—revealed through Rage Clicks or poor page performance—is holding many shoppers back as well as how much it's impacting your metrics.
Once you prioritize what’s most important, you have the power to “zoom in” and replay a few sessions so that you can confirm the problem. And with all that digital experience context, you'll be sure to have ideas for immediate fixes, optimization, or future A/B tests.
2. Optimize Performance So Heavy Traffic Doesn’t Bring You Down
If this section had a theme song, it would be “Under Pressure.” It’s not just how you feel when looking at your web hosting bills: it’s how your site feels when your traffic suddenly ramps up 10x. Will your site or app’s performance keep up under extreme traffic conditions?
Performance has a huge effect on e-commerce KPIs: for example, when Tempur-Pedic reduced their site load times by 20%, they saw their average order value increase by 14%. If you're not optimizing performance, you're leaving money on the table.
So how do you keep your finger on the pulse of performance?
If you're a medium-to-larger retailer and planning to offer doorbuster specials from Thanksgiving Day to Black Friday and on into Cyber Monday, you must 👏 do 👏 load testing 👏. Many web serving setups aren't designed to handle sudden, huge spikes in traffic; they're designed for consistent traffic that's more or less predictable. Load testing software emulates the traffic of hundreds or thousands of users on your site, poking and prodding to find areas where performance suffers. We like Blazemeter, but there are tons of load testing solutions out there to choose from.
You might also consider tools like Calibre or Rigor for ongoing performance monitoring. They can even measure the page load speed for an entire shopping cart flow, such as Home Page > Search for an Item > Add to Cart, as we’ve done here in Rigor:
Additionally, next time you’re in FullStory, turn on FullStory Dev Tools. Dev Tools offers you insights into page performance from real users—not synthetic traffic as with other performance monitoring services. With FullStory, you even get a Network Analysis View that reveals the requests made by the browser and how long each request took.
3. Mobile First Mobile Ground Zero
E-commerce has gone from “mobile first” to "mobile ground zero." Last year (2018), mobile devices accounted for 67% of digital traffic on Black Friday—and nearly 1 out of every 2 orders (Forbes). This year, as noted earlier, mobile orders will outpace desktop at 52% and mobile traffic will peak out at 75%.
You can expect mobile volumes to kick up right after everyone’s had their turkey dinner. Just don’t expect your mobile shoppers to be in a relaxed state of mind. In a study examining data from across the web, Google discovered 53% of mobile visitors abandon a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. How thin is a mobile shopper's patience going to be when they’re trying to hunt for the best deals in between bites of pumpkin pie?
Here's what you should do: Build a conversion funnel for your mobile shoppers.
In FullStory, look to the left bar and click on “Mobile.” This will build a segment of your users who experienced your site or app on a mobile device. From there, construct your conversion funnel similar to how you did in .1 above. This could be the checkout flow if you want to examine mobile conversions. Or build out a funnel to your highly marketed “Black Friday deals” page—or your Store Hours and Store Location page.
Remember that a conversion on mobile may not be a purchase. Rather, a mobile conversion may just be the critical preliminary steps that gets that highly valued customer into your brick and mortar retail store.
4. Account for a Variety of Browsers and Screen Sizes
Screen size is no small thing, especially since your users are coming from all types of devices, computers, browsers, and operating systems.
Review your checkout funnel using each of the big mainstream browsers: Chrome, Safari, Firefox, MS Edge, and Opera. Now set your screen resolution as low as it will go and do it again. Now switch to a different operating system and do both of those steps again. Now jump on an iPad and do it. A windows tablet. An Android phone. An iPhone.
You can see where I’m going with this. Just make sure your shop looks good, or at the very least works, on every combination of browser and device your customers could possibly be using.
I know what you're thinking: this is impossible. Take heart! While you could do all this manually, you could also pop open FullStory and look at the screen resolution breakdown:
Additionally, FullStory has filters that let you select replays from customers on a particular browser and device, such as Chrome on Windows, or Safari on iPhone. Watch those sessions and take note of any glaring errors or rendering problems. Then, make sure your fixes are pushed before holiday shoppers rush in!
We can watch sessions from every combination of browser and device with FullStory to make sure we’re optimized for 90% of the market.
—Michael Moore, Moosejaw
5. Help Your Customer Service Team Breeze Through Their Support Queue
One (huge) benefit to installing a digital experience platform that also has the ability to replay sessions is the boost to your ability to provide excellent customer service.
Why? Well, without session replay, you or your CS team may need to ask clarifying questions or request screenshots to resolve any less-than-obvious tickets. The more you need to email back and forth with a customer simply to understand their concern, the more frustrated the dear customer gets—and the longer your queue becomes as new tickets pile up behind open ones.
Once your service agents can replay the customer’s session, they see exactly what the customer tripped over, how they’ve already tried to resolve the problem on their own, and how you can help them achieve their goal. All but the most complex tickets can be closed in a single touch, freeing up your representatives to tackle the next problem (and maybe even giving them some breathing room to take a walk or grab some coffee).
If your store provides real-time customer service via phone or live chat, look for DX software that also provides co-browsing capabilities. FullStory really shines for customer support, as our Go Live feature gives CS agents the ability to drop in on a customer’s session in live time, letting them troubleshoot instantly while on a call or chat.
What will your customer support professionals do with the time they save clearing their queue faster than ever with FullStory?
Go and Make Your Holiday Shopping Goals Come True!
Hopefully these tips have prepared you for the oncoming rush. If you’re interested in discovering how FullStory is helping some of the biggest brands transform their digital experiences, reach out and get a demo. Enjoy watching those orders roll in, and happy holidays to you and your team!