Understanding The True Cost Of Digital Commerce Downtime


Estimated read time: 4 minutes, 26 seconds

Digital commerce downtime can cost your business a lot more than money. Opportunity, productivity, brand perception, and SEO damage are just a few examples of collateral your brand could suffer in the wake of an outage. With commerce moving steadily toward an almost entirely digital experience, a minute’s downtime is a minute too long. SaaS storefronts need to have processes in place to ensure they are open for business around the clock––and avoid consequences that go beyond revenue loss. Here’s a closer look at what downtime means for ecommerce businesses:

Opportunity And Productivity Considerations

In the world of digital commerce, downtime is equivalent to turning customers away at the door of your brick and mortar store. There’s nothing stopping customers from navigating away from your site or visiting a different online storefront, costing you a lost sale and worse – potentially a lost customer. When your income depends on the availability of your site, you need measures in place to ensure your business runs smoothly and continuously.

While some online business owners think that short periods of downtime may not be as devastating, they are mistaken. According to Forbes, Amazon lost $66,240 per minute during an outage back in 2012. Even if your business doesn’t run the risk of losing as much revenue as Amazon, you should nevertheless treat outages with the urgency they demand.

A Bad First Impression Can Cost You Money

New customers have no previous experience with your business, so initial interactions will determine their likelihood of returning. Nothing turns a prospective customer away faster than a company that’s not ready to conduct business when expected. This places the need for a stable, predictable, and well-supported infrastructure at center stage.

Many software companies often leave choosing an ecommerce solution at the last minute, as they work tirelessly on their apps. This is a mistake. Vetting ecommerce platforms early help ensure that your product is supported by a solution that’s reliable, performs well under heavy loads, and includes the support of a knowledgeable and capable team.

Counting The Cost Of Downtime

Countless hours of marketing have gone into building your reputation as a leading digital commerce business. Your reputation has to be good, if not impeccable. The digital commerce industry is constantly evolving, with new players entering the market daily. With this reality, you have to ensure that you are ahead of the game. This may be as simple as avoiding downtime.

It goes without saying that selling digital products online is wholly dependent on the uptime of your site. If you can’t guarantee this, your business is at risk of losing a substantial amount of income in the event of extensive downtime. According to some estimates, losing just one customer can set a SaaS company back by approximately $650 in an hour.

Damage To SEO

Downtime can have a serious negative impact on your search engine rankings. By the time your site is up and running again, Google or Bing may have given your competitors higher rankings due to their availability. Google engineer Matt Cutts explains that while short outages may not be as serious as longer ones, their detrimental effect is undeniable.

With the risk being time-dependent, you still don’t want your website to be temporarily replaced with a site that is running – especially if that site is a direct competitor. Even if your downtime isn’t extensive, your ranking is still at risk.

A Few Realities Around Downtime To Consider

In truth, there simply is no such things as 100% uptime. The reality is that wherever your business technology may be hosted, hardware, software, human or a combination of these factors can and do cause systems unavailability. The aim is to minimize those realities to as unlikely a possibility that you can. Hosted environments can bring you as close to the elusive 100% uptime as technologically possible, thanks to massive advances in cloud, server, virtualization, storage and other technologies.

Another option is to distribute your technology in the form of hybrid platforms that include both hosted and in-house systems for added redundancy. Note, however, that this does incur further running costs to your operations.

There are still, however, ways for ecommerce companies to mitigate the consequences of downtime when they do occur. Open and upfront communications with customers on expected outages are crucial to managing expectations for service availability. If scheduled downtime is upgrade related, communicate this and use it as a way to highlight new features customers can expect. If an outage or disruption in service is unexpected or unavoidable, follow up with customers and provide a brief, but sincere explanation for the situation. Good customer service is especially important when things run less than smoothly.

Protect Your Business From Downtime Woes Platform

While downtime is and will be a reality in our hyperconnected world, that doesn’t mean it has to upend your business’ ambitions. FastSpring is a digital commerce platform that partners with your company to ensure the smooth operation of your ecommerce store. We understand that running a successful online store means taking care of the vital backend technology that facilitates it.

That’s why we leverage only the best systems, coupled with years of expertise in configuring the most complex web stores, to ensure our clients’ businesses run smoothly. To learn more, contact us today.

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