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4 Insider Tips to Help E-Commerce IT Departments Get Ready For The Holiday Season

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Parag Sanghavi helped contribute to this post

When consumers are thinking about which gifts to buy for their friends and family, retail businesses are crossing their fingers hoping their e-commerce stores will survive the holiday rush. As per Internet Retailer, e-commerce holiday sales are set for double-digit growth this year. Internet Retailer also projects there will be 70% growth in 2014 from mobile commerce revenue that is projected to grow to $34 billion. Branding Brand reported that the tipping point came in August 2014 when 51% of traffic to leading retailers came from smartphones and tablets. It is likely that Black Friday 2014 is going to see the majority of online traffic from mobile devices, for the first time in history. Thus, performance of your mobile applications is very important to your business this holiday season.

Mobify provided insights for Monetate’s report published in Internet Retailer mobile 500 guide stated that conversion rate from the mobile channel is very low. As per Kissmetric’s survey, 73% mobile users reported that they encountered a website that was too slow to load. While 38% reported that they encountered a website that wasn’t available. In spite of good traffic, is your mobile channel driving customers away due to bad customer experience?

To avoid runtime performance issues, clearly retailers want to know how to best prepare their m-commerce and e-commerce stores for this scaling traffic. In fact, as part of your preparations, most of you must be busy with load testing and thrashing e-commerce applications to 4 to 5 times the anticipated load for the upcoming year.

Despite load testing and planning ahead of time, unforeseen and unplanned application performance issues will always surface on the day of peak traffic to your e-commerce site. This will significantly impact your customer experience, and more importantly, your online revenue. Thus, your holiday preparations are not complete without devising a well-thought strategy for managing these real-time performance issues on the day of peak load.

Based on helping many retailers for their holiday preparations last few years, we would like to provide following insider tips. We believe that one more important thing you can still do for getting ready for this holiday season is gifting your Ops team with the AppDynamics Application Intelligence Platform.

Tip 1: Gain end-to-end visibility into every transaction across mobile, web, and e-commerce platform layers:

A common problem for many e-commerce sites is performance problems caused by third party services and applications such as payment gateways. Performance problems with these services can be just as harmful as problems with your storefront application because your customers will still blame you for any problem. Thus, it is utmost important for you to gain visibility into the end-to-end flow of every transaction – all the way from mobile applications, web end to back end transactions.

AppDynamics will give you visibility into every component of your production environment including visibility into third-party applications, web services, and insight into your end-user performance for your browser applications.

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AppDynamics will provide code-level visibility for every transaction running in any of the following e-commerce platforms:

  • Hybris
  • Oracle ATG Web Commerce
  • IBM Web Commerce
  • Magento
  • Any custom e-commerce platform built on J2EE platform
  • Any custom e-commerce platform built on .Net platform

  • Overstock.com, one of AppDynamics’ customers (ranks 31st in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 guide), has several million customers. “We do over a billion dollars in revenue a year,” said Neil Hartner, Senior Architect at Overstock.com. “Our customers expect fast response times, and we work hard to ensure that we’re the fastest retail site on the Internet.” Hartner worked with the development staff to determine the architecture and improve the performance of the website, ensuring it was as fast as possible. He said, “I myself am a developer by background, and I find that the AppDynamics solution has everything I look for. I can not only look at bigger picture of deployment but I can also look at call stacks to see exactly what code is being executed, I can see SQL calls so I can see queries that are being run and how long they’re taking to execute, and I can see web services that are being called.”

    Tip 2: Track health of Mobile API gateways closely

    Typically, user-experienced mobile performance problems are just the tip of the iceberg caused by issues in the backend application. Last year we found that many retailers encountered issues with their mobile applications as they didn’t monitor health of mobile API gateway very closely. Mobile API gateways are one of the applications thrashed very heavily during holiday peak. You need tools to track health of mobile API gateways in real time.

    AppDynamics platform provides the best in class support for most commonly used mobile API gateways including Mule, WSO2, and Tibco. Using AppDynamics platform you can monitor real time performance of your mobile API gateways.

    Tip 3: Fix production problems before they affect end-users by deploying self-healing tools

    The financial stakes are high on Cyber Monday in the US and during the entire holiday shopping season. The estimated brand damage could average $3.4 million for one hour of downtime as per report published by EMC based on survey conducted by Poneman Institute in 2013. You need monitoring tools that not only alerts as soon as it spots that a transaction is deviating from its normal path, but also self-heals in an event of an error. This will provide you ample time to proactively debug an issue even before it starts impacting your user experience for your customers and hurting your bottom line.

    AppDynamics provides capabilities for baselining and setting health rules so the system can identify unusual behavior before problems become problems. You can identify slow backend transactions by looking at transactions snapshots showing user requests. Similarly, you can identify if end-user response time is beyond normal range by looking at browser snapshots or identify issues associated with higher network response time by looking at network request snapshots. Dynamic baselines learn your environment behavior and appropriate response times, ensuring your Ops team isn’t pummeled with alert-storms or false-positives.

    AppDynamics platform also provides functionality like automatic JVM restart for self-healing. This provides you sufficient time for diagnosing problems without impacting end user performance.

    Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 3.28.17 PM

    Pizza Pizza is the largest pizza chain in Ontario, Canada, with more than 600 restaurants and over 3,000 employees. Amar Narain, Director of IT at Pizza Pizza, was responsible for making sure the applications were always performing well, especially during peak hours. He said:

    “With the AppDynamics platform we can catch problems before they cause an outage. And that means we’re saving money, and keeping our customers happy. That’s what matters.”

    Tip 4: Track Omni-channel revenue impact in real time

    When the e-commerce website is your storefront, every business transaction impacts your bottom line. For running targeted marketing campaigns, you need tools for tracking revenue from various channels in real time. Slowed transactions or errors impact your business and lead to lost revenue. Therefore, you need tools to help you connect dots and help quantify the impact of performance issue to your revenue.

    AppDynamics lets you configure business metrics for capturing data from instrumented applications and return values to report on the performance of the business.

    Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 3.28.27 PM

    “I’d recommend the AppDynamics platform to anyone running a public website where you need to know what’s happening,” continued Hartner from Overstock.com. “You want to know in real time how things are performing—and when there are problems, you need to quickly figure out where the problems are.”

    Powered with AppDynamics Application Intelligence Platform, your Ops team will be ready for any application emergency on the day of peak load. This, in turn, will ensure that your customers will get the best online shopping experience during the holiday season.

    Don’t wait to be reactive to performance issues this holiday season, start a FREE trial of AppDynamics!

    We sincerely hope you have a successful holiday season this year!

    The post 4 Insider Tips to Help E-Commerce IT Departments Get Ready For The Holiday Season written by appeared first on Application Performance Monitoring Blog from AppDynamics.

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