Brick and mortar retailers can’t offer customers the shopping convenience of an e-commerce website, but they can offer a smoother shopping experience, especially when store management can physically see problems that may lead customers to leave their half-full shopping carts at the door. Having visibility into what customers are experiencing allows retail store managers to move quickly and decisively to rectify problems. They can see not only what their customers are doing, but why they’re doing it.
While many online retailers use Web analytics alone to gain visibility into customer behavior on their Websites, that visibility is limited. They can see what is happening on the site—how many customers are abandoning their shopping carts and exiting the Website, and what they were doing when they left—but they can’t see why this is happening. Reduced sales mean business goals are not being met, and, since e-commerce, or “e-tail,” has become a major source of sales for retail companies—for many, it’s the only source—it’s critical for these organizations to pay very close attention to customer experience.
Having visibility into all aspects of the customer’s Website experience greatly enhances the ability to speed problem resolution and deliver the excellent shopping experience that is critical to sales. Combining Web analytics with a user experience monitoring solution can provide this essential visibility, which allows IT to see everything the customer does on the site, as well as the way the system responds to every mouse click.
An excellent example of the benefits of user experience monitoring can be found in the online travel industry. When your company’s Website accounts for 40 percent or more of your total business sales, identifying and resolving Website performance issues fast enough to keep frustrated customers from exiting the site, and having the visibility needed to understand why customers had departed, are crucial.
For example, a leading global online travel agency decided to employ a user experience monitoring solution to improve its website performance, and, with the resulting visibility into every aspect of the customer experience plus automatic alerts to problems in real time, the company was able to resolve issues 97 percent faster. Because users now have a consistently positive Website experience, bookings have increased by 30 percent, which translates into increased revenue for the company.
Following are four tips for employing user experience monitoring to improve e-commerce Website performance and increase revenue in support business goals:
- Understand the Customer’s Entire Experience on the Website, Not Just Their Actions
To keep customers shopping, your IT team needs to know not only what the customer is doing on your site, but why they are doing it. There could be hundreds of reasons why customers abandon their online shopping carts—maybe they couldn’t get a good view of the product they want to buy, or maybe their credit card verification took too long, or they got an indecipherable error message. A solution that records and replays every step of every customer’s visit to your site, including what they put in their shopping cart—and works in tandem with your web analytics solution—will give IT the information needed to fix the problem fast.
- Look at the Entire Enterprise
Ensuring application performance and availability have never been more important, especially when those applications serve to generate revenue. Instead of monitoring the disparate components of the IT environment separately, take an application-centric approach that uses customer experience monitoring to look at performance through the application and end user perspective. Choose a monitoring solution that provides a clear view of the entire environment, with dashboard views that communicate the health of mission-critical applications so IT can quickly see and resolve issues that matter to the business before they impact customer experience.
- It’s Not About Good Performance, It’s About Peak Performance
Evidence shows that the speed of a Website is directly related to the conversion rate. With the understanding that peak performance drives revenue, you want to select a user experience monitoring solution that alerts IT to emerging issues in real time, so problems could be addressed quickly, before they affected customers. Now when operating at peak performance, you can see the company’s website increases in the number of hits and bookings, and the average transactional value.
- Go Beyond—Think About Recapturing Lost Business
Take user experience monitoring a step further by recapturing the revenue lost when customers abandoned their shopping cars and left your site. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business have been recovered by online travel agencies by using a solution that automatically sends shopping details of customers who dropped off the Website to retention teams, who then were able to follow up with emails to those potential customers and facilitate new bookings.
Proactive use of experience monitoring enables IT to gain a clear understanding of the customer’s experience on the website, so quick and decisive action can be taken before the shopping cart is abandoned. If a customer does leave the site with a half-full cart, details of the customer experience can help recover lost business so that revenue and business goals continue to be met.
Steve Rosenberg is executive director and general manager of the Performance Monitoring business at Dell Software. He has global responsibility for the business unit, including product management, R&D, marketing, sales, professional services, and technical support. Rosenberg drives both the vision/road map, as well as the execution toward that vision for Dell’s Performance Monitoring solutions.