E-Commerce Monitoring Service | Canary


Holidays Are Over!

Now that the holidays are drawing to a close, it’s time to figure out what you want to do in 2015.

Step 1. Consult Google Analytics

(or your analytics provider of choice)
Here’s my GA Checklist:

  • What are load times? If it’s not under 3 seconds, I need to start running performance monitoring on the server.
  • What is the #1 drop-off page? If it’s not the obligatory Thank You For Your Order page then I have a content or technical problem I need solved.
  • What is the e-commerce conversion ratio on all devices? If one device is particularly out of sorts from the rest then I have some front-end work that needs to be done.
  • When are the customers most on the site during the year? How do I leverage the seasonality in the business? Should we run more promos in off months?

Step 2. Do Some Features Research

Do some research on features that are trending to see if any apply to you. Here are some areas to check out on the web by just going to sites you enjoy buying from to see how they do it:

  • Search
  • Images / Media
  • Order Tracking
  • Category Filtering
  • Credit Card Management
  • Menus
  • Front Page (this will be pretty unique to each business though)

Step 3. What Does Mobile Look Like?

If you haven’t invested in Mobile, at least make sure that your site works on mobile and a user can checkout. We are seeing as high as 25% of revenue coming from mobile devices. If you can’t invest in a full mobile solution, at least ensure checkout works and the experience isn’t frustrating. Doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to work.

Here’s a good read on the changes in mobile: smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/

Step 4. Automation

If your ecommerce business is growing, you may feel the pain of having to hire more people to fulfill orders. If your process is too dependent on labor, you may want to consider investing in technology that will make your staff more efficient. For example, if you are still printing off orders manually for fulfillment perhaps a tablet app that connects your fulfillment team to your orders software could cut down on paper and errors that come with print-outs.

Step 5. Planning

Hopefully, you have a list of things you want to do during the year by this point and it’s time to figure out what can be done. It’s important to remember that certain changes will have bigger impacts on process than others, even if they are easier to develop. If you are making a change to checkout, give yourself 2x time to work with because everything in checkout is complex and will have an impact on revenue even if it is simple. If you are making a change to your layout, expect more calls to customer service to handle the customers that can’t find a feature with the new system. Prepare your staff and your tools to handle these things so they aren’t so unexpected.

And good luck in 2015!

Stress Testing Your Store

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner and it’s time to talk about stress testing.

Your site is going to get hammered unlike any other time of the year, and if you’re like most retailers in 2014 you’re hoping to go back into the black from a weaker fall retail season.

So what do you need to do to stay afloat?

There are plenty of services available to you but one I’ve used and particularly found useful was LoadImpact.com.

What are concurrent users?

Stress testing is usually measured by concurrent users, that is to say, how many requests are simultaneously being made to your server at any given moment. Now 100 concurrent requests does not equal 100 customers. Take this blog for instance, you are on the site, but you aren’t making any requests right now. The text from this blog has already loaded and is sitting cached on your machine where you are reading it. You would not be a concurrent user because you made the request a few minutes ago and no you are no longer asking for anything from this server.

How many concurrent users should I test for?

There is no one-size fits all number but there is a good formula to start. We are mainly concerned about your busiest time, right? So let’s think about that time frame, it should be an 8-10 hour window. Estimate how many orders you’ll be getting during that time, you can do this by looking at last year’s and multiplying by how much you’ve grown in the last year. If you don’t have historical data, take your busiest time this year and multiply that by 50%.

The formula for concurrent users is as follows:

(Estimated Orders / hours it spans) * 2 = Concurrent Users to test for

So let’s use some practice numbers:

Let’s say you get 500 orders during your busiest time, which spans 8 hours, your concurrent users are as follows:

(500 / 8) * 2 = 125

You should run a test for 125 or more concurrent users.

Hopefully, this will prepare you for a very fortuitous holiday shopping season!

Also, while you’re doing your load testing, make sure you keep your monitors and alerts up to date on Canary so if anything goes wrong, you’ll be the first one to find out.