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Make a list, and check it twice

Australia’s most popular shopping holiday is upon us.

Over the last five years, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales have garnered momentum around the world as the ultimate bargain-hunter’s holiday – and Australia is no exception.

Over half (57 per cent) of Australian consumers will participate in the Black Friday shopping spree this year and are expected to spend more than $260 each on clothes, electronics and shoes.

Mobile devices continue to play a pivotal role in online shopping and have a significant impact on a retailer’s market share, revenue and brand value. In fact, nearly 40 per cent of 2017 Black Friday revenue was generated via mobile devices.

Understanding how the digital experience affects user behaviour is now critical for success during this shopping period. For one, the surge of traffic to websites from users worldwide means you need to know not only who your potential customers are, but where they are. At the same time, users on mobile have the highest bounce rate of any platform.

To put your business in a better position to drive traffic and improve conversion rates, here are some key considerations to explore.

Bigger-than-ever traffic peaks

If you haven’t sat down with your web and IT teams to test your web and mobile performance ahead of the holiday season, now is the time to do it.

Have conversations about whether your web infrastructure is capable of scaling to handle your biggest traffic spike of the year. Estimate the impact an increase in traffic will have on your website or mobile application performance and your shoppers’ experience.

Test for traffic peaks from different regions across the world, not just within Australia.

By pushing your web infrastructure and applications to the limit, and testing from highly distributed locations to simulate global spikes well in advance of the impending flood of visitor traffic, you can identify and mitigate any issues before you’re in the thick of the shopping frenzy.

Have a disaster recovery plan

You’ve seen the headlines: “Angry customers after website goes down during sales”. Even if you’ve taken steps to meet global peaks, unforeseen issues can always occur and lead to major slowdowns and even complete web or app shutdowns. When nearly one-third of your annual revenue is at stake, you can’t afford to leave anything to chance.

Developing a contingency plan to get your website back online and optimised as efficiently as possible is critical. If your website becomes unavailable, you can prepare an appropriate alternate response for your customers in the form of a “sorry page” or a
static browsable version of your website that has been recently cached. This will be better received by customers than a standard “browser error” page.

You can also inventory your pages in that cache, starting with the most important. The number one priority is to enable customers to find and buy your products, therefore, product pages and reviews should be prioritised over your “About Us” section.

Tailor the shopping experience

Providing a customer experience for mobile visitors is vital, particularly if you’re looking to target markets in Asia-Pacific, with Southeast Asia now the fastest-growing emerging smartphone market and consumers spending more time on the internet than any other market in the world.

To provide a viable shopping destination to a mobile-first region, you must anticipate customer behaviours, needs and expectations
on experiences. Add location-based translations, accept payments in foreign currencies and even offer special shipping pages and rates.

You also need to understand the device and platform your site is being accessed from. Each device – whether Apple iOS and Android
– is slightly different in critical specifications such as connectivity options and processing power. Most popular Android devices in
Asia don’t meet the computing power available on flagship models in the US and Australia. If Asia is a priority market, tailor the mobile website and applications to create the best shopping experience, such as adjusting localised versions of the application by removing extra Javascript elements or simplifying web designs.

Use data to monitor success

To deliver a competitive online experience, monitor, capture and analyse behavioural data from real users and the devices they use.
You can then identify behavioural trends and pull actionable insights to deliver an optimal and personalised shopping experiences for
all users.

Continuous monitoring and analysis can tell you why certain users are abandoning the site at the checkout. This information enables
you to arm your web and IT teams with insights to investigate and fix issues causing abandonment, such as failed translations or missing international shipping information.

For customers, November is calm before the storm – plans have just begun for Christmas and the summer holiday season. But for retailers, this is your critical preparation period online – anticipating the flood of visitor traffic, developing a disaster recovery plan and understanding customer data.

By taking these steps to understand user experience and leverage customer data efficiently, you’re setting your business up for success this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Anthony Larkin is director of product marketing – performance – with Akamai Technologies.


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