Implication of Downtime on E-commerce Websites

The brick-and-mortar retailers can sell their products only when the store is open for the customers. Similar is the case with e-commerce retailers. There is a possibility of business happening only when their websites are accessible to the users. An e-commerce business which is open to world-wide customers can go to zero accessibility in a matter of seconds. This is similar to shutting down a brick-and-mortar retailer store without notice causing inconvenience to the shoppers. Even a few minutes of downtime could make significant negative impact on the sales of an online store.

The effect of downtime could be more severe especially in holiday season when maximum sales are expected to happen during a limited time. Many online retailers prepare for these special occasions in advance to make sure their sites can handle seasonal traffic load and continue working without any issues. But during peak days the site could get overloaded with huge traffic spike and may break down abruptly. There are two possibilities of downtime – either the site is completely down with no accessibility or the site is impaired with performance issues. Either way, the damages are substantial because it is the cumulative loss in terms of money, customers, sales and business reputation. Some of the implications of downtime on e-commerce websites are mentioned below.

Becomes Competitor's Advantage

Downtime is discouraging for online shoppers who impulsively visit e-commerce websites to purchase the products online. Their need to purchase instantly dominates over everything else. When they notice downtime, most impulsive shoppers navigate to another competitor's functioning website within seconds. Very few customers are very particular about buying the product from a specific company. It could be possible that the competitors are monitoring their websites' uptime and that has become an added advantage for them to stay ahead of the competition.

Loss in Potential Revenues & Reputation Damage

When customers face faulty or offline error messages, they less likely return to the same website to continue their shopping in future. It is even more frustrating for them if it has missing page components, shopping cart failures or performance issues. The inability to serve the customer needs creates a bad impression about the website. Even repeat customers migrate to competitors when the site constantly has downtime issues. This permanent loss of both existing and prospective customers can lead to huge reduction in online sales, loss in business revenues and damage to the company's reputation.

Impact to Employee Productivity

This is one of the main aspects that businesses typically overlook when they calculate downtime losses. While downtime requires some staff to dedicate time for resolving the issues, other employees from some departments hardly have any work due to downtime issues. There will be imbalance in work productivity among various departments until the site comes back again and starts working normally. This becomes a huge burden for e-commerce companies. They not only have to incur losses in the form of reduced sales but also need to pay salaries & benefits to the employees even though they are not working.

Ruins Online Visibility

The continuous availability of the e-commerce website dictates online visibility, search engine rankings and site traffic. When site is down often, it impacts negatively on ranking and there is a lesser chance of getting listed in the first few pages of Google search results. This means the e-commerce retailer has little opportunity to be clicked by the visitor and gets only few online customer prospects vis-a-vis competitors.

Downtime Prevention for More Susceptible Websites

When compared to huge e-commerce companies, the impact of downtime on small online retailers is more because even small number of lost customers could make their business nonviable. Every time their site goes down, the customer list gets negatively affected. No matter how good their intentions are in having their website continuously being available to the customers, they could not prevent site downtimes. For such online businesses, website monitoring is an appealing option that can help in minimizing the downtime issues. Monitoring services help to better manage the websites because they provide detailed uptime and performance reports at regular intervals. Site monitoring allows to track the overall availability of websites so that the website owners can quickly respond to the situations if any issues happen.