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Are you doing enough for your e-customer?

Madura McCormack | Nov. 2, 2012
Proliferation of e-commerce sees increased profit, but at the expense of user experience

If you're not selling online you're not being profitable, that's a mantra that accurately describes the atmosphere of retail since the boom of e-commerce.

In Singapore alone, online mobile shopping has increased sevenfold to S$328 million (US$268 million) in 2011, up from S$43 million (US$35 million) the year before.

E-commerce coupled with the post-pc era onslaught of mobile devices has forced retailers to push apps onto mobile platforms fast and furious. But is user experience and satisfaction being sacrificed for profits? It is, according to Compuware.

The APM [application performance management] company believes it's time for organisations to have a long hard look at app performance from the user standpoint instead of the traditional infrastructure-up position, or they could be losing income.

We want it fast and we want it now

In the first quarter of 2012 alone, Apple had sold 15.43 million iPads globally. According to Compuware, tablet users tend to be active and tech-savvy, this means they expect websites to load well and load fast.

A study commissioned by the company revealed that 70 percent of tablet users require a website to load in two seconds or less and users are 33 percent more likely to abandon the page if that time increases to eight seconds.

"Start understanding your user, start monitoring them. What kind of challenges are they facing?" said Koh Eng Kiong, ASEAN regional director at Compuware.

Koh explains that fixing the infrastructure is not a full proof plan because the backend may seem fine while the user experiences slow response times or faulty Web pages.

Find the bottleneck then fix it

Koh repeatedly described it as "working from the top down"; addressing the issues the user is facing first.

"When a user is experiencing a webpage that is slow or having complications, there are a few factors that could be responsible," Koh explained in terms of finding the root cause of the problem. "It could be the data centre, the network or even third party applications."

Koh claims a website can have on average 6-12 third party applications that a user interacts with that could potentially decrease the response time. He cited the example of a Facebook 'like' button, where in June the social networking company had an issue with their data centre that caused 80 percent of media websites to slow down 8 to 12 seconds.

"It's about being aware of the root cause. Follow the users' clicks, find the bottleneck and fix it," Koh added.

When it comes to monitoring the users, Koh highlights that it is important to know your user size, what transactions they are making and where the activity is coming from.


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