Speed is everything when it comes to digital commerce, and even small slowdowns can have a big impact on your bottom-line. For example, a 1 second delay in page response time can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. Put into perspective, if an e-commerce site is making US$100,000 per day, a 1 second page load delay could potentially cost US$2.5-million in lost sales every year.
With the recent decision by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to regulate the Internet just like telephones — a concept known as Net Neutrality — the need to improve the speed of your ecommerce application has never been greater. No longer will large retailers, in theory, have an advantage by being able to pay Internet Service Providers to guarantee the best available broadband speeds during peak selling times like Christmas and Black Friday. So how can retailers cope?
Here are four ways to speed up your digital business that you likely haven’t thought of yet:
1. Flatten your SKU data model
Simplifying your catalog SKUs can yield big performance gains. Even though your catalog may have many SKUs representing every product you have, you may be able to flatten it in the data model so that databases, in system memory and search algorithms, aren’t overloaded. What is a SKU data model? Imagine a retail catalog with xs, s, m, l, xl sizes. Add to that men’s and women’s and then 10 colors. All of a sudden you have 100 SKUs for one product. Considering that you might have 2,000 products in total, pretty soon you have a large catalog to deal with in system memory, searches and the product information database. Some questions you might ask your IT team about flattening your SKU data model include: Can you merge SKU types? At what point in the order process do SKUs matter to the business? In the fulfillment system only?
2. Caching is your friend and potential enemy if you don’t do eviction/expiry correctly.
Ideally, serving a product details page would not hit the database, except for price/inventory and even those should be in a short-lived cache for the product details page.
3. Push content forward.
You want content as close to the customer as possible – from an architectural layer perspective as well as geographically for global businesses.
4. High Availability (HA) systems generally support performance inherently due to horizontal scaling capabilities (that is, you can always add more hardware to the system to get more performance).
But a non HA system (such as an EFP system) in the mix can totally ruin speed. You would be surprised how often non-HA systems “need” to be involved in a commerce transaction. Isolating those systems behind an asynchronous integration is a good practice if you can’t remove it all-together.
Depending on your business, these improvements can yield performance gains significant enough to increase revenue and improve the digital experience for your customers.
Matt Dion is Vice President of Marketing for Elastic Path Software. Matt has more than 20 years of experience in marketing & partner strategy, business development, analyst relations, product marketing, product management, and strategic alliances. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.