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Fix These Four eCommerce Integration Fails to Delight Customers and Prevent Lost Sales

Reagan Boone • March 13, 2015

The link between slow page load times and poor conversion rates on eCommerce websites is well known.  We’ve explored the connection in our white paper eCommerce Site Speed: How to Measure, as well as our posts on  Site Availability here on the LYONSCG blog.

Conversion Rate by Page Load Time

Source: E-consultancy

Assuming that your eCommerce platform code is already fully optimized, you may still fall victim to slowdowns originating from third-party integrations.  What steps should you take to mitigate risk with both back-end and front-end integrations?  How do you prevent degraded customer experience and lost sales?

  • Problem:  My site’s order submission process slows to a crawl every time my payment processor has issues.  I’m worried that the problem will affect peak sales days.

Solution (Good):  Use a site configuration setting to enable or disable the payment processor integration as needed.  When the setting is disabled, only validate the mod 10 algorithm and the expiration date.  Collect the customer’s payment information for later processing.  Make sure you’re using a PCI-compliant platform like Demandware and that you understand the PCI Data Storage Do’s and Don’ts!  If the transaction fails, you will need to notify the customer via email.

Solution (Better):  Implement a circuit breaker design pattern to detect failures without manual intervention.  After {x} failures over {y} timeframe, disable real-time calls to the service for {z} time.  The latest version of Demandware, as of February 2015, supports this pattern by default and “allows you to manage calls to unavailable web services, cap the number of calls to a web service, and analyze web service performance.”1

  • Problem:  My site uses a third party for sales tax calculation, but it fails or times out during heavy traffic.

Solution:  First, see the solutions above.  Always have a strategy to halt communications between your site and unresponsive services.  Without it, you may introduce significant delays into the page rendering time.  Next, consider a backup tax calculation strategy.  Although United States sales tax rules vary widely and carry extensive complexity, configure a failover calculation based on the highest possible tax rate per state.  For example, the state of Tennessee charges 7.0% sales tax, but local municipalities impose various rates up to a total of 9.75%.  Identify your sales tax obligations, and use maximum rate information for each applicable state.  When you’re ready to capture funds from the authorization, you may end up settling the transaction for a lower amount based on an accurate sales tax calculation.

  • Problem:  My site uses an order management or warehouse management system for real-time inventory information and order history.

Solution:  If possible, reduce the number of real-time calls to your back-end systems.  Load the inventory and other data in batch mode directly into your eCommerce platform, and implement an effective caching strategy.  The Demandware platform supports an allocation time stamp in each inventory record and will calculate availability from the indicated point in time by taking pending orders into consideration.  Some eCommerce platforms also support NoSQL adapters to alleviate load from the database server.

  • Problem:  My front-end integrations time out and cause pages to become unresponsive.

Solution:  Your site may have render-blocking JavaScript references.  If possible, defer JavaScript, switch to asynchronous loading, or move the script tag to the end of the rendered HTML.  Otherwise, use a site configuration setting to enable or disable the integration as necessary.  Monitoring services like Gomez, Pingdom, and Uptrends may assist in early problem detection.  Additionally, render-blocking JavaScript may negatively affect your Google PageSpeed score.

Need more solutions? Feel free to contact us.

 

1 Demandware, Inc. Demandware 15.2 documentation

 

Reagan Boone is a Senior Technical Architect at LYONSCG and a fifteen-year veteran of eCommerce architecture and software engineering.


Reagan Boone

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Reagan Boone

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