Website Load Time, Seamless Experience, and ECommerce Scalability

eCommerce Scalability Requires Solid Strategy

Speed and Universality Are More Important Than You Think

It seems safe to say that we are all aware of how much modern life has “sped up.”  Everything from restaurants, to phone calls, to websites, to shipping have been subject to an increasing demand to just move faster.  While some people view this as a negative trait of the modern era, it is really more of a neutral fact about the world around us.  While the increased need for quick service can add to our stress, it simultaneously grants us more time to spend doing other, more valuable things.  If you’re thinking about the future of your business, it’s important to understand some of the most important foundations of eCommerce scalability, including just how important speed is to the average user online.

In the same way, universality of experience has been a rising demand among all kinds of users online but especially shoppers of online stores.  This can be compared to the brick-and-mortar success of brands like McDonald’s, which has long been praised for the reliability of customer experience between two distant locations.  While brands often only have one central online store because of the nature of online shopping, users will still experience different “stores” as they switch from device to device.  If you’ve ever compared the experience between a web store on your iPhone versus a web store on your personal computer, you might understand how similar concepts apply.

When considering eCommerce scalability and the future of a business, both of these factors are going to be remarkably important.  In fact, research undertaken by internet service provider CenturyLink estimates that a solid $44 Billion was lost in potential revenue by online merchants due to negative experiences with their website availability and speed.  If we take a moment to put ourselves in the position of a customer browsing on mobile during their commute, for example, we can see how frustrating it would be to be looking at an item at home before a commute only to have the mobile site hang up or be confusingly different when they go to buy on their phone during the commute.

Concrete Techniques for Improving ECommerce Scalability

Let’s consider speed first.  The “speed” at which a website loads is actually reliant on a few core factors: back-end, visuals/plugins, and user internet service.  Unfortunately, there is no realistic way for an eCommerce company to plan for every difference in a user’s internet or cellular service; however, companies can carefully analyze the overall design of their website and make it as efficient and, therefore, as optimally fast as possible.

The first step to speed optimization is analyzing back-end.  You need a reliable host with a server that matches your traffic needs and competent code in order to have an optimized site.  Services like AWS (Amazon Web Service) and Microsoft Azure are both viable options for reliable eCommerce scalability; both AWS and Azure utilize cutting edge technology in order to dynamically load-balance your website to handle surges in traffic without costing more in the off-peak hours (or days.)

Good Programming Is Key to eCommerce Scalability

In addition to having a quality web service, your website needs to be written efficiently and with modern techniques.  This boils down to bringing in talented web dev employees, whether through an agency, bringing you the value of a dedicated team, or through an internal employee (bringing you the convenience of an in-house solution.)

The other factor that companies can control in the efficiency and speed of their websites is in design decisions.  There is an old adage in writing that says, “write less, say more.”  This adage can be applied to web design as well.  Visual elements, videos, flashy features, and plugins all add stress to your website’s bandwidth.  Choose wisely.  If a plugin or element isn’t bringing enough to your website to justify the potential slowdown (or cost, in the case of dynamic services like AWS/Azure,) it might be best for your company’s scalability to cut that element.

Moving on to the idea of universality of experience, securing this factor for your business largely comes down to having a solid strategy for mobile devices and browsers.  If you don’t have skilled mobile developers working for you, your company will undeniably fall behind in the coming years.  More and more users are shopping primarily on mobile, and nearly all shoppers now at least supplement their online shopping with mobile browsing or store app usage.

Companies who opt to make their site directly accessible via mobile web browsers should be sure to extensively research the incompatibilities between PC browsing and mobile browsing.  For a quick example of this, Adobe’s Flash player, a commonly used plugin on PCs is not available at all on iPhone devices, meaning that stores utilizing Flash-based media will appear incomplete or not load properly on iPhone browsers.

In order to sidestep browser incompatibilities, many companies opt to make a stand-alone mobile app.  The most notable example of this being Amazon’s store app.  When visitors go to Amazon’s website on mobile browsers, they are encouraged to get the app version of the store, which advertises some pretty fantastic bonus features.  Amazon’s app is snappy, synchronizes user accounts between the website and the app, and allows for one-click ordering.  These features, at least currently, seem to make up for the inconvenience of having to download an app.

Final Thoughts

Building a plan for eCommerce scalability in an age of rapid mobile growth is a challenge for sure, but it is a challenge that companies must overcome earlier rather than later.  Established brick-and-mortar companies who have yet to make the move into omnichannel selling have left a cumulative $65 billion of profits unclaimed according to Retail Information Systems research.  That finding makes for a stunning figure, and companies really can’t afford to miss out on that kind of profits with competition so on the rise.

The key to taking scalability challenges in stride is in having experts who know the nuances and intricacies of eCommerce strategy and design.  If you have yet to move into omnichannel selling, call us today at 888.982.8269 or visit our homepage at www.1digitalagency.com.  We can help your company build a scalable, mobile-friendly website right away.

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