Is Your Cloud-based eCommerce Site Driving Customers Away?
RSR recently conducted our first study about the state of cloud computing in retail in order to discover the rationale for moving business applications to the Cloud. As we stated in the report, “Our going-in hypothesis governing the reason for this surge was rooted in the need for on-demand computing horsepower and flexibility… <but> It turns out we were wrong. Instead, the most frequently cited forces behind cloud computing in retail are all about pushing the ‘go faster’ button.” When it comes to which applications were best suited for the cloud, retailers told us that the eCommerce application was tops (72% rating it as a “high value” opportunity).
So far, so good. Since consumers live their digital lives largely in the cloud and like to shop 24X7 and 365 days of the year, it makes perfect sense that the eCommerce site be there with them. On the other hand, in the cloud study, only 14% of retailer respondents stated that “peak business volumes are so erratic that we need the ability add capacity on-demand” is a top business challenge.
That’s where we need to push the “not so fast” button!
Before making the assumption that consumers don’t mind occasional eCommerce site slowdowns, it’s a good idea to ask them. That’s just what we did (for two separate studies), and guess what? Consumers DO care. You might be surprised just how much.
Let’s start with the most basic question, “have you ever left a website because it’s too slow?” Of the almost 800 consumers that we asked, 91% said “yes”, and what’s so interesting about that is that it didn’t matter what age the consumer is – the answer was still “yes”.
The next question is, “what did you do next?” Those retailers that are not too concerned about their websites’ ability to dynamically add computer resources to keep up with erratic demand should take note: the majority of Millennials (ages 18-34) decide to “leave and ‘google’ products for alternative sources”, and 42% of that age group will subsequently go to Amazon or Alibaba to find what they are looking for. And there’s no comfort in thinking that consumers with more money to spend – Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers – will be more patient. Their attitudes trail Millennials by only a few percentage points. In fact, the only group for which a majority indicate that they will “just forget about it” are Seniors (those over 65).
So, by giving short shrift to the requirement for an ability to dynamically add cloud-based resources to meet demand, retailers are ignoring a big potential threat to customer loyalty, and thus their own successes. But don’t believe us – listen to the consumer! When we asked consumers, “How does poor website performance affect your opinion of a retailer's brand?”, 30% told us that “It's really irritating - I look for alternative sources, will think twice about trying again” and 5% said “it’s intolerable… I won’t be back.”
Are you ready to risk 35% of your eCommerce business? Ignoring the issue creates a potential exposure for retailers. And the problem is real; of the 800 consumers we queried, a stunning 85% indicated that they have experienced slow or unavailable eCommerce sites up to 5 times in the last six months! We even got a sense of how much money could be at risk; the largest group of consumers (42%) indicated that they spend between $51-100 each time they purchase something on the eCommerce site.
The message is unambiguous. While addressing the ever-increasing backlog of corporate demands for new functionality is indeed important (RSR’s Cloud study makes that clear), meeting consumer expectations for a fast and flawless eCommerce experience 24X7 should always be top-of-mind. Anything less is flirting with disaster.