The difference between making a sale or losing a customer for good comes down to a matter of seconds. When a shopper enters your web store, they’re expecting it to load quickly and flawlessly. Lags, unresponsive navigational controls and outright error messages are all forms of downtime—and can cost sales.
But these instances of lost revenue aren’t the only true costs of downtime for ecommerce websites. Let’s take a closer look at the consequences of having a non-functioning online store for your bottom line and how to prevent it.
Beyond Lost Sales
While lost revenue is the most obvious problem with downtime, it only accounts for 22 percent of the overall damage. The holistic damages of downtime tend to be much steeper. Reputational and brand injury account for 37 percent of overall damage. And as you know, once you lose a customer’s trust and admiration, it’s difficult to get it back.
You may also have to shell out some of your hard-earned money to get your website back up and running if an incident does occur. That’s precisely why the cost of determining the cause of the failure and the cost of technical support to get the store operational again account for nine and seven percent of total cost, respectively.
Causes of Downtime
Downtime can stem from a number of issues, ranging from servers that aren’t equipped to handle an influx of traffic to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which can inhibit the performance of ecommerce sites, or shut them down all together.
In one 2016 survey from Corero, 45 percent of IT security professionals said the most damaging consequences of DDoS attacks were the loss of customer confidence and trust. Another 34 percent cited lost sales as the most detrimental issue. Unfortunately, cyber-attacks like these are on the rise.
Downtime leads to page abandonment, plain and simple. That’s why even “soft” downtime like slow page loading can be just as damaging as an error message. Nearly half of online shoppers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less; 40 percent will abandon an e-store that takes more than three seconds to load. And, shoppers expect these speedy load times on both mobile devices and traditional desktop computers.
According to a KISSmetrics infographic, a one-second page response delay can result in seven percent fewer conversions. Over time, these losses add up.
Minimizing (or even eliminating) downtime starts with modern security features and a mobile- and desktop-ready cloud ecommerce store that can handle fluctuating traffic. For example, a platform like Shopify offers 99.99 percent uptime, in part because using the cloud eliminates the threat of hardware going haywire. When your online store is just starting to take off, it’s important to be able to accommodate traffic spikes without the threat of servers crashing, just as shoppers start flocking to your product pages.
In an ideal world, your ecommerce store would never experience downtime. But let’s say you do. You’ve been busy preparing a flash sale to blow out your end-of-season stock and make way for new inventory. You’ve been hyping the sale on every social media channel. You’ve drummed up interest; your customers are ready to get their hands on your discounted merchandise. Everything is going to plan until—thirty seconds after the sale goes live, your site goes down.
You need to work to swiftly identify and solve the problem, of course. In the meantime, it helps to communicate with your customers in real-time, using Facebook, Twitter or email, to let your customers know what’s happening. As Alertra writes, “Your customers will want to know what is going on immediately. You can’t wait a few hours while you email and call your web hosting company or web developer.”
For these reasons, it is important to make sure you’re operating on a platform that can handle your traffic. You also want 24/7 support to resolve issues and salvage your sales. After all, the true costs of downtime for ecommerce websites run deeper than just missed sales.