7 Secrets of Successful eCommerce Businesses
When it comes to successful ecommerce businesses, there are 7 things they all have in common, and they all relate to website downtime. This is because all successful ecommerce businesses realize just how detrimental downtime can be to their online endeavors and to their bottom line. If you want to be among the percentage of online ecommerce sites that do succeed, you need to familiarize yourself with these secrets and take the steps needed to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before you and achieved greatness.
1. Realize that Website Downtime is Enemy Number One
All successful ecommerce businesses realize that website downtime is enemy number one. It affects your business’s reputation and, more importantly, its profits. For every minute your website is down, profits are lost and customers are frustrated. The exact amount of money you lose each minute will vary depending on the volume of sales your website makes, but no business can afford to throw profits out the window. Failing to minimize the downtime of your website equates to doing just that.
2. Understand That Uptime Monitoring Service is the Best Tool in Your Arsenal Against Website Downtime
When fighting website downtime, the best weapon to have in your arsenal is a quality website monitoring service. These services not only tell you the moment downtime occurs, allowing you to fix problems and put contingency plans in place more quickly, but they can also notify you of performance issues and help you understand the cause of the downtime your site is experiencing. Successful ecommerce businesses realize that a quality website monitoring service isn’t just another business expense. It’s a cross between an insurance policy and an investment, as a website monitoring service is one of the few services that can actually pay for itself over time.
3. Understand that Not All Website Monitoring Services Are Created Equal
Since an uptime monitoring service is the number one weapon in your fight against downtime, it’s important to realize that not all of these services are created equal. When it comes to the most powerful weapon you have, you want to make sure you invest in quality. "Free" services aren’t often actually free and you may end up spending more in the long run to get the protection your site needs. If a service actually is free, it likely won’t offer you the level of monitoring that your site needs to actually protect your profits and site’s reputation. Instead of shopping based on price alone, look for quality services that have servers in multiple locations and services that will check your site at set intervals as often as every minute or less.
4. Transparency is Key
When your website goes down, it is not the time to be secretive or keep your customers in the dark. You need to communicate with your customers regarding the downtime that is occurring. Utilize social media and email lists to communicate any downtime issues with your customers. Since downtime can seriously damage a site’s reputation, transparency can help you reduce the impact it has on how your site is perceived. Consumers appreciate a business that communicates with them about why a site is inaccessible when they want to visit it and they want to know when it is expected to be back online.
5. Apologies Do Make a Difference
When a website goes down, customers usually don’t have a problem taking to the social media sites like Twitter and complaining about the downtime. However, websites that reach out and apologize for the downtime are much less likely to receive such complaints. This is because when you apologize for downtime, your customers realize that you care about the inconvenience the downtime has caused them and are more forgiving. Simply updating customers that downtime has occurred and how long you expect the site to be down isn’t always enough. A heartfelt apology can go a long way to retaining customer trust and respect.
6. Have Backup Plans in Place
All successful ecommerce sites have contingency plans for long periods of downtime that are out of their control, such as copies of their websites hosted on a backup server with a DNS service that has a very short TTL (time-to-live) period. This way, if your hosting provider is the reason that your site is down and you do not think it will be back online in a timely manner, you can switch to your backup plan and your site will function through the hosting provider’s downtime, keeping business running like clockwork while your hosting provider works on resolving its own issues.
7. Offer a Discount
When your site experiences downtime, you lose profits. One of the best ways to recoup some of the profits you lost, while at the same time retaining customer trust and respect, is to offer a limited time coupon code to "make up" for the inconvenience the downtime caused your customers. Not only will your customers appreciate the gesture and be more likely to forgive you for the downtime, but the extra sales you make due to the discount are likely to make up for some of the sales you lost during your website’s outage.