With Cyber Monday only a day away marking the beginning of the holiday selling season for online retailers, businesses need to ensure that their websites perform seamlessly and with no downtime!
Forgetting about the marketing aspect for a second and focusing instead on the actual mechanics of a website, business leaders need to expect the best while at the same time preparing for the worst by following some type of pre-sale checklist to insure a seamless shopping experience for their new and returning customers.
They must do this so that any obvious technical issues can be found and addressed.
Speaking as a potential shopper, nothing moves me off of a website faster than one which I find to be difficult to navigate either visually or manually, is loading slowly, has any issue with moving from page to page or that poses any inconvenience during the check-out process.
From the website ease of use standpoint the day before Cyber Monday may be a little bit late to make any substantive changes, but with the rest of the holiday selling season still in front of us, use the list below and as they say, check it twice!
If for some reason after all of the preparation something actually does go wrong and an e-commerce website is experiencing trouble or worst-case scenario is actually failing completely, there are companies out there that can help minimize the scope of a potential problem or loss of business both before and after Cyber Monday.
These companies, many of which have come into existence since the checklist below was created, can help to make sure that a firms website engineers who are the first and last line of defense, are not the last ones to know about problems!
Of the companies out there one, VictorOps, expresses this ability to help maintain the integrity of an online businesses platform in one of the best ways I have found with the tagline, “We make on-call suck less.”
Is Your Website Ready for Cyber Monday? (Source Entrepreneur, 2012)
1. Audit: Take a hard look at your site and ask: What is the user experience like? Is it on brand? How fresh is its content? How does the site stack up to others in your category?
You also need to consider how your site looks on mobile devices. Four of every five smartphone users — 85.9 million people — accessed retail content on their device in July 2012, according to comScore’s Mobile Metrix 2.0 service. Every online e-commerce platform should be optimized for mobile users.
2. Analytics: Have you embedded Google Analytics code on every page? Do you know where people come from, how long they stay, what they buy and if they buy again?
The right product mix is always important, but never more so than on Cyber Monday. Real-time analysis can help you win the e-business war. If you aren’t using Google Analytics, you should start immediately. The standard version of the service is free.
3. Traffic capacity: Being ready to handle traffic spikes is as important as driving consumers to your site. If potential shoppers have a bad online experience, you’ve probably lost them forever. And what’s worse, an unhappy customer can have a devastating impact on your brand in the social media world.
4. Traffic generation: With your website optimized and a plan in place to handle extra traffic, you need to start attracting buyers. Look at new co-op models for business that use Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare as a way to drive traffic. Amex Sync, for instance, enables American Express card members to sync their eligible card with Twitter. When they tweet using special hash tags, savings are loaded directly to their synced cards — no coupons or printouts needed. When card members use their synced card for purchases online or in-store, the savings are automatically delivered via a statement credit within days.
5. Conversation: From tweens to moms, consumers are online telling us what they want to buy. All you need is a way to monitor the conversation. Fortunately, new tools such as Radian6 allow you to monitor conversations, see what’s spiking on a daily basis and decide whether to respond.
6. Pricing: Think of it this way: a mother out shopping with her cell phone is with the savviest bargain-hunting friend she has ever had. More shoppers than ever will comparison shop via their mobile device with price comparison apps. First, make sure your prices are clearly displayed. Second, make sure your pricing is competitive.
7. Promotion: To persuade people to visit your site, consider offering an incentive that’s relevant and highly targeted — and promote it through social media. Last year, for instance, Wal-Mart gave consumers a chance to buy Cyber Monday sale items a day early. Shipping incentives are popular with many shoppers. According to a recent study in the Journal of Marketing, free return shipping offers can increase online purchases by 357 percent.
8. Service: What improvements are you making to customer service? Do you have online reps ready to quickly answer questions? Browse through J.Crew’s website, for instance, and see how quickly and accurately a “click-to-chat” option pops up.
9. Loyalty: Your returning customers deserve rewards for their loyalty. And your website should reward them not only for their past purchases but also for their potential future value. What is your policy for preferred customers? Can you offer them a preview sale with a loyalists-only promotional code?
10. Connection: How do you stay in touch with consumers throughout the year? Start by listing all the contact points you have with them: online, in-store, email, traditional CRM (customer relationship management). Then, test to see which customer communication approaches work best for your business and invest accordingly.
Michael Haltman, President of Hallmark Abstract Service, New York.
HAS is a provider of title insurance in New York State for residential and commercial real estate transactions specializing in the areas of New York City, Long Island and Westchester.
For anyone either buying a property or refinancing, remember that although your attorney will likely recommend a title insurance provider, you always have the right to choose your own title company (click here to learn more)!
If you have any questions you can reach Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.Google+