Also, "be sure to monitor your Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate validity and expiration date," adds Zaheer Ahmed, marketing analyst, ManageEngine, a provider of enterprise IT management and network management software. "SSL provides the required cryptographic security needed to provide security to your customer communications. It's important to test and monitor the certificate expiration for adequate customer experience."
4. Have a mobile version of your site. "Last Black Friday, one in four U.S. retail website visits were from mobile shoppers," notes Ken Barber, vice president of marketing at mobile ecommerce solution provider mShopper. "This year it is expected to reach at least one in three. Given that the majority of mobile shoppers will abandon a website if it's not mobile friendly, it's essential to launch a mobile-optimized version of your website," he says. To make sure your site is mobile friendly, "make sure the site is built to address unique mobile shopping behaviors and isn't simply a re-skinning of your current site for mobile technology."
5. Stock up. "Pay extra attention to inventory planning before the holidays," says Maria Haggerty, president, Dotcom Distribution, a fulfillment and logistics company. "If your website runs out of products, you will lose out on holiday sales, as well as potential future sales from new customers," she warns. "Not only do you need a solid forecast of what products will sell, but you also need to make sure you have allowed sufficient lead time and factored vendor delays into the equation," she says. "Late arriving goods put added pressure on your back-end operation, which can lead to shipping delays."
6. Make sure pages load quickly. "Web performance expectations have evolved and users are demanding much more -- a one-second performance delay can be the difference between a profitable and unprofitable year," says Kavitha Mariappan, director, Product Marketing, at Riverbed, an application performance company.
"According to a Harris Poll, 44 percent of shoppers would cancel their online purchase mid-way during the final checkout process due to website delays and 89 percent of adult U.S. shoppers would simply stop shopping at an online store as a result of a poor website experience," Mariappan says.
The solution? "Implement sophisticated traffic management and Web content optimization tools to improve performance and reduce webpage load times," she says.
"Make your site load very fast, ideally less than 2 seconds per page load," adds Alex Zorach, founder and editor, RateTea. "A site that hangs for a few seconds before loading may lose visits from casual shoppers who are doing comparison shopping if competitors' sites load faster," he says. "A fast, responsive site also makes it more likely that users will explore your site fully."
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