How retailers can assure customers by monitoring these three website issues

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This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: How retailers can assure customers by monitoring these three website issues.

By Gav Winter, CEO of next generation website monitoring company RapidSpike.

The post-pandemic explosion of ecommerce retail is showing no signs of slowing. As such, more and more customers are talking about their online shopping habits. This has changed the way we feel about buying: as more channels become available, so too does the potential for problems.

A study by Motive.co revealed that 80% of online shoppers worry about their personal data when shopping online. Within this, 72% felt their data was unsafe on social media. More than half felt unsafe while browsing the web, and 33% were worried about ecommerce websites.

Their concerns are by no means unfounded. In 2020, there were 4,800 formjacking attacks per month, capitalising on the growing ecommerce sales of the period. These affected any transactional websites from cosmetics retailers to charity donation sites. Thousands of customers’ payment details were lost to hackers.

Monitoring common ecommerce issues is not a luxury, but a must-have. Crucially, it helps to protect retailers from three key perspectives. First, it prevents revenue loss. Website problems that could impact a user’s streamlined journey through to check-out could block essential sales.

Second, it reduces the risk of reputational damage. Data breaches continue to steal headlines in the modern age of security attacks. One study by Forbes revealed that 46% of organisations had suffered reputational damage through a data breach.  

Third, it keeps customers safe. Not only are retailers at risk of large financial losses, but customers too. A proactive approach to website monitoring assures customers. Whether that’s a streamlined user journey or secure payment details, they can feel safe while browsing.

The team at RapidSpike use a three-pronged approach to protecting these characteristics of retail sites. They categorise these into website performance, uptime and security.

Website performance problems, or ‘blue light issues’ are unexpected bugs or other disruptions that arise on an otherwise functioning site. A common bug for ecommerce retailers is failure to pull through product data. This may stop users from being able to complete their purchase – for example, if sizing data is missing.

Uptime refers to when a website is fully operational – but problems can still occur. User testing is essential for this. The problem may only be affecting small areas of the site that could be overlooked on a bigger scale. For example, if a particular design element is blocking a button on a product page, this could stop the customer from progressing.

The third issue is preventing website attacks. The aforementioned formjacking attacks are often known as Magecart attacks. Hackers attempt to expose vulnerabilities in an ecommerce site. They then inject malicious code into the site’s source code.

They will then install a keylogger, which records what a user is typing into a field. Any user typing their credit card details into a payment form may unwittingly be giving them away to malicious third parties.

Just as these are blue light issues, they can be stopped with a blue light service. An emergency services approach treats performance as the ambulance, uptime as the fire service and security as the police. In turn, it prevents these critical website problems.

In practice, this comes down to automated user testing and fraud detection. So for example, website monitoring software would mimic a customer’s buying journey. This would identify any stumbling blocks. Elements affecting Google’s Cumulative Layout Shift (a new metric identified by Google’s Core Web Vitals to measure user experience) may be stopping a customer from clicking.

Likewise, Magecart attack detection software can alert webmasters to a potential attack. This monitors all traffic and crawls the site for critical areas where data may be sent out. The software also warns retailers when new destination hosts appear. 

Ecommerce website problems can be anything as small as a slow-loading site to a critical crash or data breach. Only by taking a proactive approach can retailers stop this from happening. Left undetected, it could become a reputational and financial risk. With ever more cautious online shoppers, there has never been a better time to invest in solid ecommerce site performance.

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