An online store, unlike a physical one, doesn’t need to hire security guards to protect the merchandise from being stolen from the shelves. However, there are situations where outside security can prevent losses for e-commerce as well.
The main fuel of online sales is the marketing budget, spent on advertising on Google, social media, traffic from price comparison sites, remarketing, mailings, SEO, etc.
E-commerce success depends on optimizing advertising efforts (lowering the cost of attracting users) and the site itself (increasing conversion rates).
But even with the most effective campaigns and the most successful stores, some of the marketing budgets may be wasted – and the store owner may not know it!
“Steam to the whistle” – or unnoticed failures and defects
Every user visit to a website involves an acquisition cost. In the case of CPC advertising, it is a specific cost per click. In case of campaigns settled by page views or flat fee, this cost is also countable – it only needs to be divided by the number of clicks. In the case of SEO activities, it is harder to convert the invested money into acquired traffic. But it doesn’t change the fact that each visit costs money.
Now let’s imagine that the acquired user (potential client) is interested in the offer and willing to buy but cannot complete it. Either the website is unavailable or one of the important functions (e.g., adding to the shopping cart) is not working.
In such a situation, the amount of money spent on acquiring this user is wasted. Furthermore, the image of the store is spoilt. An annoyed user will probably use a competitor’s offer and will never come back.
If the problem remains undetected for several hours – or even several days – the scale of losses becomes very significant.
“Stealth killers” – or the most common types of silent failures and defects
The total unavailability of a website is a failure that cannot go unnoticed. But there are many other situations in which the marketing budget is wasted quietly. Here are some of the most common ones.
Inadequate store performance
Increasing the popularity of an online store among users from your target audience is a most welcome situation. But the site’s infrastructure must be prepared for it. Otherwise, you may find that some users will see an error message instead of the store page.
Let’s assume that the store operates on shared hosting. Providers of such services usually limit the number of simultaneous visits possible. Let’s imagine a successful campaign during which the previously recorded maximum of 10 simultaneous visits grows to 50. And the hosting package limit is 40.
In this situation, at any given moment, 10 users will hit a non-functioning website. On the scale of a whole day, there will be quite a several lost visits.
Moreover, the store owner may not notice the problem, because the page will load correctly for them. It rarely happens that a friendly customer contacts the store’s support to inform about the problem. Most often it is displayed only in the sales statistics, which are “out of sync”.
For a variety of reasons, a website may start loading slower than usual. This can be caused by the infrastructure (server, link), as well as the design of the site itself.
A store owner who inevitably visits it often doesn’t load it fully every time. Internet browsers keep a large part of the downloaded components of pages in the cache to display them faster, as well as to save some transfer. As a result, they may not notice the slower performance of the page at all.
On the other hand, a user who visits a website for the first time doesn’t have to be patient at all. After a few seconds (!) of waiting – they will give up.
Error in the shopping process
The online store is available, loads quickly, and is prepared for a sudden increase in traffic. So, what if, due to a small error (for example, a button covered only on smartphone screens), it is not possible to place an order?
The store owner will see a high cart abandonment rate in the statistics. But they will notice it when the losses have already been largely incurred.
Other non-obvious scenarios
An e-commerce site may stop working due to a simple oversight of one of its employees. It is enough, that for example, they forget to renew the SSL certificate or the domain.
If they click the wrong way and block the access of search engine robots, all the store’s pages will disappear from Google in a short time.
The solution: online store monitoring
Luckily, all the situations described above can be detected, registered, and reported by an external web store monitoring.
This is a SaaS (Software as a Service), which consists of continuous testing of the website in a way that pretends to be a visit of a live user.
Such tests can be performed even every minute. They can verify the following features of the website:
- availability (whether the site works)
- content (does the page contain a defined phrase)
- loading speed (does the page load completely in the assumed time)
- processes functioning (do all steps of a defined scenario work correctly)
- expiration of domains and SSL certificates
- presence on blacklists
- blocking of search engine robots.
Whenever a problem is detected, alerts are sent to defined contacts – in the form of an email or SMS.
In the service panel, in addition to general reports, you can find detailed data to help you analyze the failure – HTTP headers, HTML code transcript, screenshots, HAR files, etc.
Platforms such as Super Monitoring offer numerous plugins and integrations, thanks to which the user panel can be conveniently integrated with one of the popular CMS – e.g., WordPress, Magento, or PrestaShop.
External monitoring of an online store costs much less than a security guard in a physical store and allows you to prevent much greater losses than theft from the store’s shelves.
This service has turned from nice-to-have to must-have for e-commerce a long time ago, joining the group of basic services such as a domain, hosting, online payment processing, or courier services.