The online retail marketplace continues to get more competitive every year, and end users are connected around the clock by desktop, smartphone or tablet wherever they are, including in the store.
Because our world is now omnichannel and always-on, application developers, testers and production teams need to be on top of their game to keep up in 2015. As we enter the second quarter of the year, we are clearly seeing that application performance management (APM) is driving digital performance for companies that are committed to leading their industries.
There is so much that companies can accomplish with APM to ensure their business-critical applications are running smoothly from the moment they are rolled out to end users. Regardless of how many bells and whistles an application or site claims to deliver, success boils down to a consistently superior end-user experience on all platforms—especially mobile. For internal apps, success also depends on end-user experience driving adoption. And, for customer-facing apps, engagement, conversions, brand equity and brand loyalty depend on digital performance.
So what do you need to think about now as you get prepared to meet ever-rising user expectations and higher levels of competition through the remainder of 2015? Here are five tips:
1) Sharpen your focus on digital performance. If you don’t have a solid APM strategy in place, you need to get going on this today. When digital performance isn’t adequately pre-planned, problems can and will occur that ultimately affect the bottom line and your end users’ decision to transact with you or your competitors. Applications need to be load-tested ahead of time to make sure they can withstand high traffic and heavy use. Otherwise, users will be disappointed and businesses will be impacted.
During peak shopping times for example, competitors are just a click away from sales that could be yours if your site performed. Harris Interactive shopping research verifies that it takes only seconds for consumers to give up on a site and head elsewhere with dollars, loyalty and opinions to share on social media. So don’t give your competition the upper hand: Focus on digital performance now so you’re ready to compete and win throughout 2015.
2) Keep your eyes on the end user. If you’re serious about success, you need an APM solution that provides visibility from the end-user perspective, wherever and however he chooses to interact. To manage digital performance, especially as complexity increases and the platforms your customer interact with diversifies, you need insight into all transactions at all times. Sampling won’t cut it. You can use this insight to ensure your sites and apps are performing for users regardless of their devices, browsers or operating systems.
3) Simplify. You need an APM approach that shares a unified perspective with all stakeholders, from digital business owners to development to testing and QA to production. To act on digital performance insights, get a shared perspective on where challenges are occurring.
Dynatrace looked at a major e-retailer that optimized its site and minimized processes to download content; their performance was more than 50% better than competitors who packed in lots of fancy features. Keep things simple: Focus on delivering core functionality with a delightful user experience under all conditions, rather than including too many bells and whistles and risking user frustration with a sluggish digital experience.
4) Don’t miss the boat on mobility. Mobile shopping is on the rise and will continue to grow in 2015. Projections from Forrester Research reveal that by 2017, holiday mobile spending will reach US$370 billion. Each year, mobile shoppers become more demanding and more reliant on their mobile devices, even while in stores. In the Harris survey, 37% of smartphone and tablet users said they would shop elsewhere if a company’s mobile site fails to load within three seconds. This means that companies that want to capitalize on rush periods need to be sure the end-user experience they deliver on tablets and smartphones meets or exceeds the excellence users have come to expect from traditional PC browsers.
Consumers will shop with their devices wherever they find the best experience (and deals). Last year, most companies weren’t able to deliver the mobile experience consumers wanted. Response times averaged more than 18 seconds to complete a multi-step transaction, which led to increased abandonment, bounce rates and revenue loss. Your mobile app strategy must match your shopper’s level of urgency and expectations for performance. If it doesn’t, it’s akin to handing over your revenue to competitors.
5) Open your eyes to performance blind spots. A full performance life-cycle approach is key to eliminating blind spots that wreak havoc on performance. You need synthetic load testing and availability monitoring, with real-time, 24×7 tracing of real-user activity and delivered customer experience to understand how changing activity and unanticipated conditions impact every end user.
Now that you’ve got your apps in top shape, don’t let a third party cause your customer frustration. Be attuned to a growing reliance on external services in e-commerce website environments. Don’t forget: Advertising and social networks, for example, can take their toll on delivered performance too.
The bottom line: Think carefully about what’s essential to profitability. You might have great deals on your sites and apps, but if users aren’t satisfied with the digital experience they have, you will lose revenue. Seconds matter, and performance is absolutely necessary to win and keep customers while growing brand loyalty and revenue.
If you don’t have one, put an APM solution in place now to be sure you’ve got all the bases covered for peak digital performance to drive a successful 2015.