Search Works - But Can The Web Site Handle Traffic, Commerce?

You're building great search campaigns and optimizing Web sites to serve ads and organic listings at the top of the page in search engine queries -- but no amount of work and consumer clicks will pay off if the company's back-end system fails to support the Web traffic. More people are buying online. Make sure the site's IT folks strengthen the infrastructure because if the site fails to deliver, so will the optimization and ads. The site will need to support the traffic increase coming in 2014. I can't stress it enough.

There is lots of hoopla about purchasing products on mobile devices, but the real focus should remain on building systems to support ecommerce transactions, whether on PCs or mobile devices. The clicks will come from search queries, ads and from browsers direct to Web sites. IDC predicts that deficiencies in back-end systems and IT support will become one of the biggest challenges in 2014, especially in mobile use, as one in five consumers go mobile-only. I experienced it this morning while on a phone call with a retailer checking on an order that only partially arrived.



When I asked why I received two pieces rather than the three I ordered, she said I would receive the third piece this week. The retailer typically sends an email to tell the consumer the order will ship separately. The systems are so overloaded that they don't show the correct ship date. The retailer's system isn't sending email notifications that a partial shipment has been shipped, and customers are complaining that it's not giving the correct arrival date.

"More people are telling me they're shopping online because they don't want to brave the crowds or get pepper sprayed," the customer service rep said.

I had a similar issue online the other evening when using a chat window to ask questions while shopping on a Web site. I initiated the chat window to find myself in line -- No. 88, for customer service help. Whew. It took the retailer about 10 minutes to initiate the request.

eMarketer points to September 2013 ChoiceStream research suggesting that more than half of U.S. Internet users have browsed and bought at least something via a mobile device, but 87.3% liked using their computer for online shopping best, with just 7.4% choosing tablets and 5.3% choosing smartphones. Even with all that clicking and buying on a PC, more than half had researched or booked at some point via mobile.

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