This year, the holidays are shaping up to be incredibly competitive, as ecommerce sales are predicted to climb up to 14%, compared to last year’s 8.4%. Therefore, it’s imperative for online retail brands to ensure their sites can scale during those high traffic periods and accommodate the increase in shoppers.
Don’t Overestimate Customer Patience — Cyber 5 Success Depends on Speed
While many online retailers may fear downtime and outages during Cyber 5 — the time period between Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday — it’s worth noting that a website being “up” doesn’t mean it’s delivering a delightful experience that will keep customers returning. Instead, the milliseconds it takes for a page to load can turn an enjoyable shopping experience into a frustrated customer and an abandoned cart. Poor web performance or slow transaction speed can dampen a customer’s perception of a retail brand’s site, and may ultimately drive that customer to shop at competing sites.
To eliminate disruptions and friction to the online shopping experience, retail brands could benefit from incorporating observability, more specifically synthetic monitoring and real user monitoring (RUM), into their web operations.
A Resilient Modern Retail Strategy Begins with Observability
Observability is a modern approach to monitoring that provides complete visibility across a retail brand’s full stack of infrastructure, applications and ultimately the customer experience. It provides the insights needed to ensure continuous reliability and performance of the applications and infrastructure of a site. Diving even deeper — synthetic monitoring and real user monitoring (RUM) are both critical components of digital experience monitoring (DEM), which focuses on customer experience as the primary indicator of a system’s performance and health.
Synthetic Monitoring Works as a Crystal Ball into your CX
Synthetic monitoring is an approach to DEM that helps brands visualize their CX by emulating the paths a customer might take when shopping on a website. It allows users to generate synthetic traffic to simulate user behavior for different scenarios, geographic locations and device types, and helps online retailers find and prevent web performance issues before customers notice.
For example, it could be used to simulate how a user may browse through categories of shoes, then add new items to their cart, check out and purchase those items. In addition, synthetic monitoring can be combined with an automated optimization engine to help ecommerce brands find, fix and prevent web performance issues with more precision so they can provide a seamless user experience.
RUM as the Final Piece to your Visibility Toolkit
Similarly, RUM is another important component of providing a holistic and cohesive CX. That’s because for the site reliability engineers (SREs) and service owners who are responsible for fixing customer-facing issues, RUM enables them to pinpoint problems faster through end-to-end user session capture and analysis.
Additionally, it enables visibility into how real users interact with an application, and can bridge the gap between application performance and its impact on user experience. What’s more, RUM can automatically measure the Core Web Vitals, the statistics that Google uses to determine page ranking.
Bottom line: for this year’s long-awaited Cyber 5, it comes down to creating a fast, intuitive and seamless CX. A retail brand wants to be remembered for its unique products and holiday sales, not for how poorly its site performed during one of the most important times of the year. When a retail brand uses synthetic monitoring, coupled with real user monitoring and an overarching observability practice, it can quickly get to the root cause of front-end issues and resolve them before these issues impact customers. If applied diligently, these strategies will result in a smooth and memorable experience that ensures customers will keep returning to shop even after the holidays.
Spiros Xanthos is the SVP and General Manager of Observability at Splunk, overseeing Splunk’s Observability product portfolio. Previously, he was the CEO and Founder of Omnition, an Observability platform for cloud-native applications that pioneered no-sample tracing and co-created OpenTelemetry. Omnition was acquired by Splunk in September 2019.