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Your eCommerce Shoppers Are Going Global. Are You Ready? | @CloudExpo #Cloud

It's hard to get away from the fact that eCommerce is a large and growing force in our economy

You may want to ask yourself if you really have a good understanding of where your customers are shopping. Digital marketers are known to cuddle up with Google Analytics as they crawl into bed at night just to explore these trends. Are you doing the same? Because as more of your customers visit you from other parts of the world, you'll have to do a little bit more to make sure they all have a great experience on your site.

Here's a mind-blowing statistic for you: Take all the stores and retail outlets in the world - basically anywhere someone can buy something. Then, add up all the money that those stores earn collectively. How much of that do you think came in over the Internet?

This year, it's expected that 7.3% of all that money was from online sales. And in just a few years, that number will be 12.4%.

Think about that - about one out of every 10 dollars (or euros, or yen...) that consumers will spend over the next few years will be spent online. And this money is being spent by about 40% of worldwide Internet users, which means more than one billion online shoppers. That makes a crowded Black Friday at Walmart seem like nothing.

It's hard to get away from the fact that eCommerce is a large and growing force in our economy - not just here in the U.S., but around the world.

A Worldwide Boom
As you unpack the numbers, they reveal some interesting trends about eCommerce in different parts of the world. For example, this year it's expected that overall, eCommerce will grow by 25%. However, that's happening at different rates in different regions of the globe. In Asia-Pacific, where it's growing the fastest, the growth rate for eCommerce is projected to be a staggering 35.2%, while in North America the growth rate will only be 14.3%.

Of course, a newer market is going to grow faster than a more mature market. So it's interesting to look at growth alongside online sales projections overall:

  • China: $672.01 billion (42.1%)
  • U.S.: $349.06 billion (14.2%)
  • U.K.: $99.39 billion (14.5%)
  • Japan: $89.55 billion (14.0%)
  • Germany: $61.84 billion (12.0%)
  • France: $42.60 billion (11.1%)
  • South Korea: $38.86 billion (11.0%)
  • Canada: $26.83 billion (16.8%)
  • Brazil: $19.79 billion (17.3%)
  • Australia: $19.02 billion (9.3%)

Now, some of these countries have a larger population than others, so of course that's going to factor into how much is being spent. When you look at how much is being spent by each shopperon average, you see that growth may be slower in the U.S., but volume is not. Consumers in the U.S. are starting to spend big on the Internet. As the market matures over time, people become more comfortable with larger purchases.

So what does this all mean for you? What about your site?

You may want to ask yourself if you really have a good understanding of where your customers are shopping. Digital marketers are known to cuddle up with Google Analytics as they crawl into bed at night just to explore these trends. Are you doing the same? Because as more of your customers visit you from other parts of the world, you'll have to do a little bit more to make sure they all have a great experience on your site.

If Your Site Sucks, Shoppers Leave - at Home or on the Go
If consumers start shopping on a site or exploring content and the page doesn't load quickly enough, they give up. They find somewhere else to buy the thing they wanted to buy.

You are a consumer. You know you've done this too.

It's as easy as re-typing a search term again, but this time you click the second link that Google sends your way. In fact, 60% of web users leave a website and go to a competitor's site if it takes more than five seconds to load the page. And 88% of web users won't come back to that site if they assume it'll be slow.

Of course it's not just the web. These days, 85% of web users expect that a page will load just as fast on their mobile device as it does on a computer. That expectation is really important because mobile devices aren't just the exception anymore, especially over the holidays (which are coming up fast). People travel; they use their phones to place orders so that gifts are ready when they get home. They shop on their devices while they are shopping in stores. The mobile device matters - it directly impacts revenue.

Just because you know your site is zippy in Toledo doesn't mean that your users in Quebec City, Frankfurt, or Singapore see the same thing. There is a lot of variation around the world between datacenters, carrier networks, and general Internet infrastructure.

Geo-Realism from the Cloud
Geo-realism means adapting your load testing and performance monitoring so that it mimics the user experience from different regions around the world. You shouldn't be doing all your load testing from server banks in the room next to your application's datacenter. You shouldn't even be running them from the next town over.

The best way to ensure that your load tests are geo-realistic is by using the cloud.

The cloud isn't for everything of course. As your team builds the app, you will naturally develop a suite of load testing scenarios for core testing that you run from an easily controlled location. You conduct unit tests with these, get rid of bottlenecks, and assess baseline performance of your app at the component. But at some point you need real system tests.

That's when you string together those components into a number of realistic scenarios. For example:

  • User logs in, browses through items, selects an item, checks out.
  • User logs in, confirms tracking information for a recent order
  • User logs in, finds a recent order, prints a return ticket

You package these scenarios up and push them out to load generators in the cloud. You'll want these generators distributed around the world in a variety of different locations and datacenters. The cloud lets you scale this infrastructure up and down as needed without having to configure new machines and network devices. That's the beauty of the cloud - you quickly get worldwide scale for your scenarios.

Using the cloud, you run your tests and gather your metrics. You can study these results to see how behavior differs throughout the world. This may lead you to reconfigure how you do load balancing, modify your caching capabilities, or potentially deploy entirely new supplementary datacenters. The point is: you now know how users around the world are interacting with your site.

It doesn't stop there.

You can also conduct synthetic user monitoring from the cloud. This is an activity that's managed in Operations as part of the ongoing performance management effort. You take the same transactions that were run by your distributed load generators and re-use them as live performance tests. Synthetic users are created around the world, executing these tests regularly using the cloud. They run against your production app while it's in use, and they measure the site experience that users are actually exposed to. You can feed those metrics back to Operations and to Testing, giving you a steady stream of data that doesn't depend on impacting real users.

Conclusion
With the continued growth of global eCommerce shoppers, having a global view of your app's performance is more important than ever. Use the cloud to create geo-realistic load tests and performance monitoring profiles that will give you confidence your users are having a great experience, no matter where they are browsing from.

Finally, get ready - it's going to be a wild holiday shopping season!

Photo Credit: Nicolas Raymond

More Stories By Tim Hinds

Tim Hinds is the Product Marketing Manager for NeoLoad at Neotys. He has a background in Agile software development, Scrum, Kanban, Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Testing practices.

Previously, Tim was Product Marketing Manager at AccuRev, a company acquired by Micro Focus, where he worked with software configuration management, issue tracking, Agile project management, continuous integration, workflow automation, and distributed version control systems.