Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We already know how crazy Black Friday can get. One keyword search on YouTube brings up countless videos of people recklessly clawing at each other for electronics, toys, appliances, and other items whose prices have been drastically slashed for the occasion.
Cyber Monday trades the mob mentality of Black Friday for a more concentrated panic online. The consequence is directed at the protection of personal identification and data.  This time last year, the National Retail Federation found that 122 million Americans planned to shop online. That number is sure to increase this year, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean consumers aren’t wary of the risks of online shopping.

How Safe is Online Shopping?

In a 2016 identity fraud study, it was discovered that there were 15 million victims of identity fraud in the U.S. — 16% more than the year before. Of course, it is the responsibility of the consumer to exercise good password habits, ideally alphanumeric, and routinely changed. They must also exercise good judgement when choosing where to make their online purchases. This isn’t just referring to sketchy retail sites. Legitimate and established online retailers aren’t immune to security breaches. Recently, Forever 21 notified customers that certain stores reported a possible payment data breach due to non-operational security encryption tools that were installed back in 2015. This isn’t the first time Hostway has discussed the topic of data breaches in major enterprises. Recently, we wrote about managed security issues with AWS that led to the exposure of data for several organizations such as Dow Jones and Verizon.  And that wasn’t the only Amazon cloud server breach this year.
“Cyber Monday trades the mob mentality of Black Friday for a more concentrated panic online.”

With events like Cyber Monday, it’s important to make sure your business security protocols are up-to-date, scalable, and PCI-compliant. Without taking these precautions, the cost to your business could be substantial. The average cost of a data breach per record — for instance, a single compromised credit card — was $172 for the retail industry in 2016. At that cost, with an average of 122 million online shoppers, that presents a very expensive risk that should not be taken lightly. Not only for profits, but for customer trust and loyalty.

It’s Your Job to Protect Shopping Online

For many businesses that depend on the cloud, it is their obligation to safeguard the customer information stored within it. And the first step is to perform a risk assessment of your infrastructure. Instead of remaining vulnerable to threats, work with a trusted managed security provider that can provide expertly managed cloud solutions that are compliant and secure. This way you can focus more on your business while making sure customers receive the care they deserve.
Finally, in another survey, 57 percent of online shoppers believed the greatest identity theft risk they face is the data breach of an online retailer. Forty percent of those surveyed said businesses are not doing all they can to protect their information. This is a clear call to action from the consumer to the business.
Don’t wait until your organization has become a victim to cyber threats. Experience the Hostway difference and request a free security consultation or contact a Hostway cloud hosting expert at 1.866.680.7556.
 
 
 

We recently discussed how eCommerce retailers have no choice but to optimize page load times if they want to make sure customers don’t give up and leave before completing a purchase. Part one covered the issues you might find on the back end of your website that are slowing down page load times and some ways to address them.
Today, we’re looking at some frontend UI/UX issues that could be slowing you down.

Fat Web Pages

According to the HTTP Archive, the benchmark for page size as of May 2016 is 2.46 MB. Everything from JavaScript and CSS files to images and pop-ups can contribute to this size and slow down page load time. So how can you reduce the size of your web pages?

Optimize Images

Images tend to comprise 50-60% of the weight of most web pages:

Reduce Complexity

Images aren’t the only elements swelling on web pages. Page complexity, and thus the resources it takes to load a page, is also increasing. Here are some examples of these resource intensive elements:

Did you miss part one of this series?

As a retailer, you’re probably very busy preparing for the holiday shopping season. There’s no shortage of articles and blogs right now with helpful tips, and as they all probably say, you have to prioritize site performance. Let’s face it, if the page doesn’t load, the shopper can’t shop and they certainly can’t buy. So how do you know if your site performs adequately? Let’s take a quick look at the most important site performance metrics and what you should, and can, do to make sure your site is ready for the 2016 holiday shopper onslaught.

The Ultimate Performance Goal

Obviously, page load time matters, a lot, when it comes to consumer engagement and conversion, but let’s look at the numbers that matter. There’s a common performance benchmark in eCommerce that a page should load, often referred to as the “Time To Interact” or TTI, in three seconds or less. If your pages take longer to load, it’s widely accepted that 25% of shoppers will leave (even more if you’re talking about mobile users.)
Testing your site’s TTI isn’t as simple as just opening the site and running a stop watch. Page rendering is affected by both front-end (UI/UX) and server components. Every element takes time to complete its operation and the cumulative time it takes is the total “page load.”
Let’s look at the backend issues affecting performance first. (Check out part 2, where we address frontend UI/UX issues).

Server-Side Performance

The server side primarily refers to your code optimization and the hardware it runs on.
Your developers should analyze the code and database queries to make sure everything is running efficiently. You can try tools such as HTML Tidy and Websitetest.com.
At the code level, developers may need to clean up and streamline the code (i.e. reduce whitespace, line breaks and excessive spacing); reduce the number of JavaScripts on the page and/or put them at the bottom of the page; add indexes, and rewrite/modify database queries.
You may uncover that the server and bandwidth are an issue. At Hostway, our engineers are experts at reviewing source server(s) and preparing an itemized inventory report of the all the digital assets on the server side. Our full project lifecycle approach starts with consultation, architecture, migration planning, and continues through execution, go-live, and post-migration maintenance and support.
While caching web pages is commonly recommended to decrease page load time, it isn’t always possible, or a good solution. Pages that require login/authentication can’t be cached. Pages that are updated frequently aren’t good candidates either as changes won’t load until the page cache has expired.

How Many Users Does It Take To Bring Down Your Website?

In order to get a true picture of site performance you need to test a steadily increasing number of concurrent users for hits to the site and transactions. Start with the average concurrent users you have today and test for peaks in traffic that will come with promotions, holiday shopping, an email blast, etc. If you have users nationwide or internationally, be sure to test across locations.
Each step of the way, you’ll monitor response and latency time, the number of hits per second, the throughput of your website, and if any errors are present.
Hostway offers consultation on solutions to increase performance with the right technology to get your site to where it needs to be. We can provide best practices IT architecture advice to build the right technology platform to keep up with all of your promotions, events and increasing concurrent users. Each solution is tailored specifically to a customer’s need.
Learn more about what you should expect from your hosting provider when it comes to your website's performance>>>
 

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