2014 Holiday Recap: Here's What Mattered to Online Shoppers
April 07, 2015

Mike Azevedo

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E-commerce is a $220 billion industry in the US, growing nearly 17 percent a year, according to AmeriCommerce. As the consumer landscape rapidly evolves alongside the rise of e-commerce, retailers are being prompted to reevaluate their business models.

As the holidays are often the most profitable time of the year for retailers, Clustrix conducted the 2014 Holiday Shopping Season Trends Survey in January 2015 to identify the emerging consumer trends specific to the holiday season. Here’s what mattered to online shoppers:

■ Site performance – poor performance caused site abandonment

■ Convenience of online shopping

■ Bargains

■ Free shipping

■ Buying on the go – mobile shopping

Per our survey, convenience, bargains and free shipping get consumers to load up their shopping carts, but the most interesting finding was the importance of site performance.

Poor Site Performance - The Cost to E-Commerce Merchants

43 percent of consumers surveyed reported experiencing “website performance” issues e.g., slowly loading pages and images, failed pages, etc. So what did they do when the e-commerce site was slow?

■ 42 percent left the site

■ 19 percent sought another vendor

■ 8 percent reacted via social media

E-commerce vendors can lose thousands of dollars in revenue, especially during peak seasons, if their sites slow down or go down. While not every business is Amazon, who lost $60,000 per minute when they went down a few years ago, small to medium sized e-commerce merchants have also reported losing $10,000 to $30,000 per minute of downtime.

A common culprit causing site performance issues is the database (e.g., MySQL) that runs under the e-commerce application (e.g., Magento). To avoid website slow downs (and crashes), e-tailers should assess whether their database is up to the job. While MySQL is a widely popular database, it also has scaling issues that can cause website performance problems. Consider adopting a more scalable database. A scale-out solution has the ability to grow with the ever-increasing demands your online business faces. After all, no merchant can afford lost customers, lost sales and most importantly, lost revenue.

Here are some additional findings:

Consumers prefer to shop online, even on Black Friday: On Cyber Monday, almost two-thirds (62 percent) of consumers reported shopping online. In fact, Cyber Monday is now the largest shopping day of the year. Additionally, nearly half (48 percent) of respondents shopped online on Black Friday whereas only 26 percent shopped in store on Black Friday. Traditionally an in-store shopping day, Black Friday drew in more traffic online.

Bargains and free shipping matter: A whopping 87 percent of those surveyed said they’d buy an item because it was on sale (11 percent “always”, and 76 percent “yes, depending on the item”). Additionally, three-fourths (74 percent) of consumers claim that better shipping rates and options would influence their purchase decisions on Cyber Monday.

Mobile devices reign supreme: Mobile devices and tablets are beginning to play a large role in e-commerce, from researching prices and products in advance of a purchase and for the purchase itself. Survey findings revealed that nearly half of consumers (47 percent) reported shopping on their mobile device this holiday season.

Mike Azevedo is CEO of Clustrix.

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