Retailers can use modern web technology to speed up their websites and ensure proprietary systems and sites do not time out, regardless of network quality.

Ajay Kapur, CEO, Moovweb

Ajay Kapur, co-founder and CEO, Moovweb

According to CNBC, in excess of 40% more people are working from home since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. This surge in at-home workers means even more employees now rely on mobile devices to assist them at their jobs, and sometimes that presents challenges. According to B2M Solutions’ 2019 State of Enterprise Mobility survey, about 51% of workers experience monthly productivity-hampering issues with their mobile devices.

Frequently, these issues are related to unreliable network connections—something that employers typically can’t control. However, you can use modern web tech to ensure that your proprietary systems and websites don’t time out, regardless of network quality.

Progressive web apps (PWAs) are perhaps the most relevant example of this technology. PWAs load on even the worst networks and always deliver speedy page transitions. Because they use a JavaScript-based service worker to pre-fetch data in the background, consumers can use PWAs even when there’s no connection.

Both the modern business environment and the modern consumer reward companies that move quickly; delivery speed allows tiny startups to compete with established companies. The online insurance platform Lemonade, for example, promises customers “instant everything.” It provides coverage in 90 seconds and payouts in only three minutes. Is Lemonade’s coverage better than State Farm’s or Geico’s? Probably not, but the company has disrupted the industry by giving consumers exactly what they want and need: a fast, smooth mobile experience.

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The high price of latency

Roughly 75% of Black Friday transactions took place on mobile devices in 2019, while in-store traffic dwindled. Consumers have turned to online shopping to avoid crowded lines (and, more recently, to keep safe). However, research shows that waiting for a slow website to load creates the same emotional effect as waiting at a checkout line, so don’t let your website become what your customers are trying to avoid.

CIOs are responsible for leading technological innovation. You cannot afford to let consumers believe you’re behind the times. If your website seems outdated—due to appearance, slow page-load times, or timeouts—the responsibility will fall on you. Sure, you might find some solace in blaming your content delivery network (CDN), but you both typically end up pointing the blame back to your frontend code or your server response time.

Traditional CDNs were built for static content websites, not dynamic revenue-generating websites (e.g., e-commerce, travel, hospitality) or lead-generation websites (e.g., financial services). These CDNs do a good job caching images and website code but do very little to cache data that lives in, for example, an e-commerce product database—the very data that your shopper is waiting to see.

Fortunately, a new set of vendors is bringing computing to the edge of the network, which makes it much simpler to cache dynamic data. This is especially useful in e-commerce where traditional CDNs typically cache dynamic at less than 20%. Traditional CDNs understand only URLs (i.e., 10,000+ product pages) and not your website code (i.e., your product page template). As such, they are challenging to configure to cache dynamic data.

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When CDNs fail to truly accelerate your website, you pay the price three times. First, you pay in the form of lost revenue due to a slow site. Then you pay the CDN cost, which is substantial: Enterprise e-commerce websites typically spend $3,000 to $5,000 a month on one of the top three CDNs. Finally, there are the costs of fixing the issues, which requires IT personnel and developers to decipher what’s wrong on the CDN level and the frontend and server levels.

If you want to see success in an increasingly busy and competitive e-commerce industry, you’ll have to update your website. Websites that time out, don’t load or glitch on mobile will lead to fewer conversions and revenue loss. If your site can’t meet the consumer demand for speed, others will.

Moovweb provides mobile commerce technology to 38 of the retailers in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000.

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