E-Commerce tips midway of the first ever holiday season without a play book
Even the best minds in the game are not sure what to expect in the coming weeks as we are in the midst of a unique retail holiday season. The travel barriers both physical and mental, social distancing and social media all point towards an E-Commerce led holiday season. Retailers acknowledge that a playbook doesn’t exist for what is happening or what is to come. These trends and upsurges have created new opportunities and challenges as customers have started shopping earlier while choosing experiences that are familiar, reliable and safe this holiday season.
E-Retailers have accelerated micro services initiatives and application modernization efforts to improve scalability, reduce overheads and elevate the customer experience for the season. However, the most noticeable trade-off for the scale and reliability of micro-services infrastructure especially during holiday season is the challenge of complexity for quick response and associated interdependencies between integrations.
Balancing act for this trade-off is an observation and optimization strategy that is inclusive of the containers and micro-services powering digital experiences.
Let’s start with the most important component of all:
Some of the holiday checklists that you may need to observe and optimize are:
- Allow your customers to pay their way, include and integrate BNPLs, digital wallets, integrate online payments analytics to understand other ways customers might want to pay. For example, if you have a large international audience, accepting local payment methods can help you capture sales in specific markets.
- Last minute additions to the list of offered payment methods is something we all do in E-Commerce. However, ensure that they are also working together and not just as standalone. Imagine a situation when multiple payment providers offer PayPal on your website have enough mechanisms to differentiate one from another during order creation or during refund/void of the orders.
- Brand your checkout integrations, let the customer not be confused. If you don’t host your checkout process, it can confuse customers as they get transferred from your site to the payments page. This experience can create doubt in the customer’s mind, causing them to abandon the sale.
- On guard for payment fraud. By implementing a best-in-class security experience, you can give customers the confidence they need to complete the sale. Integrate the best-in-class security and fraud detection apart from the Greta payment feature and offers.
Holiday Fulfilment is the new word of the season:
During the season in which Amazons of the E-Commerce world will be doing same/next day deliveries, we are sure you made the right decisions regarding:
- Appropriate stocking up for the season
- Tracking inventory
- Outsourcing versus in-house fulfilment decisions for faster deliveries
However few things to check regarding your order integrations technologies are:
- Making sure that order export jobs are able to deliver expected higher level of orders per hour upstream. A load test is highly recommended.
- If you use Order webhooks then make sure that upstreams can handle higher volume of webhook calls.
- All the 3rdparty integrations must have a configurable enable/disable feature. You should be able to quickly switch them OFF without impacting overall order creation process in case they have a downtime during sales peaks.
PIM and catalogue synch:
Hope you have an amazing Akeneo like PIM integration already in place. Embrace the power of user generated content, user reviews, video content, unique hashtags, bring the feeling of holidays and festivities on your product page with your PIM products.
In this journey we also need to ensure that whole PIM to storefront product journey is as smooth and fast as possible with the following pointers:
- Measure the time to import catalogue data both full and delta synchs from your backend systems such as PIM/CMS etc.
- If above measured times are sub-optimal then ensure you have different approaches for less frequent full/large synchs and more frequent delta/small updates. So, use file /bulk API transfers for large sets and Singular API/Webhook/Event updates for smaller synchs.
Images are the most important sales component and most of us do it right, however there are other factors that need to be taken into consideration for optimal performance:
- Image optimization:
Image optimization has seen great innovations in past few years. We are not recommending any particular tool in this category but giving you an idea of what can be done during the season when speed at which changes are needed is like never before.
- Simplest is that content delivery network (CDN)providers offer image optimization as a secondary feature within their solution.
- However, based on requirement, Standalone image optimizers often leverage third-party CDNs to deliver images instead.
- There are browser-based solutions, lightweight applications, and some photo editing software solutions that provide features like manual image compression and resizing, helping optimize images for websites but this may not help you during the current peak of the season.
- Speed is everything so integrating image optimization tool will be a great solution to reduce time to optimize, test and upload images.
- Asynchronized image/video loading
In tech world anything you think can go wrong will go wrong, so even the most optimized images can face issues at times. The easiest solution to this problem is lazy loading = loading images on websites asynchronously — that is, after the above-the-fold content is fully loaded, or even conditionally, only then will they appear in the browser’s viewport. No need to say that asynchronous loading is also mandatory for videos.
Hoping that you are already having a heavy season and continuous optimization of content is a mandate.
Content synchronization is basically the process of copying data from one environment to another (or others). The importance of it lies behind the acceptance of it in the other environments where it gets used.
The faultless usage of the newly added feature can be achieved by
- having the content flow from production downwards (production to acceptance to development). The copy writers set up the production content of existing components, then the testers conduct business as usual and in the end the developers integrate testing with the new functionalities.
- starting with the acceptance and then going into production. In this case the copy writers would set up the new components and then the new content can be imported with the release of the said components.
We would advise you to have your content ownership tracker always on all content. As a result, everything would be up to date and work smoothly without any problems.
These above pointers are the pillars of ongoing optimization of E-Commerce site during peak seasons specially in the microservices model. Hope the information above is helpful in managing your E-Commerce in this season without a play book and guides you to a brighter 2022.