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Will your customer experience deliver this holiday season?

With the holiday season quickly approaching, retailers are thinking through every element of their company's eCommerce plans to significantly boost sales during the busiest shopping time of the year. One of the biggest drivers of online retail sales is user experience, so retailers should place increased emphasis on bolstering the following customer touchpoints during the holiday rush to ensure positive brand interactions that convert browsing into sales:

  • Performance: According to Akamai's Performance Matters report, more than 50 percent of consumers expect a page to load in three seconds, so if your page does not, shoppers will most likely use the back button and visit your competitors. Getting content close to users and caching content to avoid round trips to origin servers will increase performance.

  • Security: Akamai saw that distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack activity set a new record in Q2 2015, increasing 132 percent compared to Q2 2014 and increasing 7 percent compared to Q1 2015. Procedures must be in place to create a sense of security for consumers and to protect retailers from the possibility of cyber-attacks.

  • Multi Device: More and more people are making purchases online, especially with shipping deals around the holiday season. No matter the platform, consumers expect a seamless experience across all devices. 

  • Mobile: In December of last year, 36 percent of all traffic on the Akamai network came from mobile devices. This year, that number is expected to rise and with that, it is no surprise that mobile has become the go to device for customers to research products and services. Retailers that focus on mobile first will undoubtedly reap the biggest rewards this holiday season. 

  • In store: Your websites performance is also key to driving in store sales, according to Deloitte, the digital channel will influence 64 percent of in store sales in 2015. This digital convergence continues to create new ways for retailers to interact with consumers and improve the customer experience before and during an in store visit.

  • Personalization: In a recent study by My Buys, 39 percent of consumers said they were frustrated with retailers who don't personalize their experience. When shoppers go to a site that is set up specifically for their needs, the experience is so much more enjoyable which ultimately increases the likelihood that they will make a purchase. 

  • Checkout: After browsing through products and finally making the decision to make a purchase, consumers want to hit "purchase" and move on. Retailers need to create a system that makes it easy for consumers to enter their form of payment and check out rather than going through a series of questions and then clicking through to additional pages and then more confirmation pages etc. Keeping it simple will work in your favor. 

  • Scalability: What happens when you have a higher than expected amount of consumers going to a site that is ill-equipped? It crashes and you run the risk of losing both shoppers and money. With the increased traffic during the holiday season, retailers need to be able to handle the growing amount of work. To help do this, load testing can determine how your site will respond under peak traffic from a variety of device types and network conditions. When preparing for peak traffic, it also verifies that your third party vendors are able to handle the additional load. It's vital that they have the necessary scalability to be able to accommodate that growth, in order to maintain the largest audience possible.   
The importance of exceptional user experience across all channels cannot be undervalued. The reason many consumers decide to research and shop online as opposed to going to a store is convenience and simplicity. If customers find that a site is not easy, they'll find another resource. If retailers make each one of these touchpoints a priority to consistently delight their customers, they'll be on their way to driving impressive results this holiday season. 

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