Successful re-platforming: It’s more than hosting

With the New Year well underway, many retailers are looking to hone and refine their eCommerce operations in order to take advantage of continued growth.

It’s predicted that eCommerce sales within the UK in 2016 and 2017will remain around 10 per cent, but will almost double, reaching 19.3 per cent, by 2019.

In other words, almost one in twenty sales are predicted to take place online. With more people than ever before ditching the high street in favour of online shopping and with US retailers predicted to make $317 billion in online sales by 2017, delivering optimal performance has never been so important.

Fiercely competitive

A recent study found that 40 per cent of people will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. With almost half of all website visitors expecting instant results, the marketplace is fiercely competitive.

To be successful in such a competitive marketplace, retailers need to understand implicitly that their ecommerce operations must be faultless and re-platforming a website is one way to deliver optimal performance.

Speed matters

With 47 per cent of visitors expecting a web page to load in two seconds or less, speed can mean everything. It is well documented that Walmart discovered a direct correlation between page load times and conversion rates. In fact, the giant retailer reported a 1 per cent loss in revenue – millions of dollars - for each 100ms of site load delay. Speed does matter.

In terms of revenue, time is money. It’s proven that a 1 second delay in page response could result in a 7 per cent reduction in conversions. In other words, if an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.

Reputational risks

Many retailers understand that lost seconds mean lost revenue and have taken steps to re-platform their sites to avoid falling behind competitors and bolster growth. However, the risk associated with slow load times extends beyond transactional based revenue generation –the reputational risks of owning a slow website are huge, particularly in a landscape that sees consumers with access to a plethora of social platforms to vent their frustrations.

To avoid the financial and reputational risks associated with performance and to avoid falling behind competitors, many companies opt to re-platform. Selecting a hosting provider that has a wide-reaching content delivery network that allows data to travel faster is a key driver in accelerated performance and is an important point to consider when re-platforming.

Importance of geography

In addition to a wide-reaching network, the geographic location of your hosting provider’s data centres can be paramount to performance. The closer the customer is to the data centre, the quicker data can be transmitted and the quicker the website is. When selecting a hosting provider for re-platforming, particularly when looking at international markets, data centre locations should be taken into account. The hosting provider should also have an extensive network that reaches abroad to enable a similar service to all customers irrespective of their location.

Specialist success

Networks and data centre location are essential – however, it is also important to ensure that your provider has experience with the eCommerce platform your business employs. For example, some large companies offer global cloud-based services and claim to be able to deliver in terms of performance because they have extensive networks. However, they don’t have exclusive experience with eCommerce platforms like Magento and IBM WebSphere.

Guaranteed performance needs to be nailed down and underpinned by focus and experience. Not all hosting companies can deliver specialist expertise. Selecting a hosting company which can offer a bespoke and flexible platform, tailored to the retailers’ needs, means it’s likely your website will be able to handle traffic peaks, especially seasonal surges.

Performance and security

Over recent years, cyber breaches have become more common and the consequences more devastating. Breaches not only incur financial loss but can also lead to a £500,000 fine from the Information Commissioner and a reputation that is shredded.

Retailers understand the importance of meeting Payment Card Industry Security Standards as will any good hosting company. From SSL transactions, to providing layers of security that not only safeguards against the latest malware but carries out deep packet inspection, monitors for SQL injections, detects aberrational behaviour and flags up suspicious behaviour?

The above areas are just some of the important issues that need to be nailed down when considering re-platforming.

Understanding

Re-platforming typically involves some element of infrastructure evolution, whether it be increasing network and server loads or adding new infrastructure features. Support for these developments is essential and knowledge of the existing infrastructure from a hoster can make all the difference to successful re-platforming.

Clearly, retailers want the best eCommerce platform possible in order to leverage growth in the market. Achieving this requires not just decisions about the platform but the hosting company. The hosting needs to be able to support the platform and understand the complexities of retailers’ ecommerce platforms for re-platforming to be successful.

Mark Stephens, Head of eCommerce, Cogeco Peer 1

Photo Credit: Yuriy Boyko/Shutterstock