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WEBINAR REVIEW Retail site performance: how Charles Vögele delivers an outstanding ecommerce experience

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Ensuring websites are robust and work as quickly as possible across a variety of devices, at Christmas and around the year, was the focus of a recent Internet Retailing webinar, in association with Keynote Systems, mobile and web cloud testing and monitoring specialists.

Fabian Koßmehl, responsible for frontend, application and online areas at Swiss fashion retailer Charles Vögele, and Robert Castley, solutions consultant at Keynote, were the speakers. As well as considering how retailers can prepare their transactional websites for peak times of the year, such as Christmas, they also discussed ways of optimising for a variety of devices.

Fabian Koßmehl, responsible for frontend, application and online areas at Swiss fashion retailer Charles Vögele, opened the webinar by introducing the Swiss fashion retailer , which has more than 850 branches across Europe. It employs more than 7,000 people in 10 countries and in 2011 took gross sales of more than a billion Swiss francs. The same year, 58% of its turnover came from women’s wear. Its online store serves five countries in four languages.

Multichannel services means that its online store and branch stores stock the same collections, which are linked through the same marketing, CRM programme and collection. Prices remain the same, while logistics links the two, with deliveries from a single warehouse. “We can target our customers through offline and online channels,” said Koßmehl.

With eight interconnected and interdependent webservices powering operations, it’s vital to know that they are always up and running. Charles Vögele set up Keynote Systems alarm management to let technicians, programmers, and shop managers know when there is a problem with the central web servers. Features include email notification during office hours and smartphone push notification outside those hours. In the last year five downtimes were identified immediately and action could be taken quickly. The alternative, waiting to find that that the online shop wasn’t working through a customer complaint, would take “far too long,” said Koßmehl.

Charles Vögele also used Keynote Systems to monitor its site performance, and it identified 30 possible optimisations. Results have included a 45% reduction in home page loading times, while the time taken to move from the home page to checkout has reduced by 35%. Conversion has been boosted by 0.6%.

In the run up to Christmas, Charles Vögele expects up to eight times more visitors a day, with as many as 10 times more page views an hour. It will prepare by having a round-the-clock emergency plan, monitoring through both Keynote and Nagios systems, while processing power will be doubled.

User-friendly layouts are being introduced and unnecessary code removed. “Customers have more chances to focus on the checkout, without thinking about navigation,” said Koßmehl. “We want our customers to focus on the product and stay on the shop.”

Mobile was the focus for the second speaker, Robert Castley, solutions consultant at Keynote Systems. With the surge of tablet and smartphone use, he said, there was a need for retailers to optimise their sites for such devices. “People are getting as impatient as they were with desktop sites and are wanting to get a good experience,” said Castley, who said retailers must now design your ecommerce site around these devices as well.

“If you don’t, you’re going to potentially lead to abandonment of your users as they get frustrated with the speed and usability of your site on those two devices,” he said.

Castley cited figures that show 60% of tablet users now expect a download in three seconds or less, while 64% of smartphone users want to download sites in less four seconds. Currently, however 18% of mobile commerce sites download in six seconds.

Castley went on to explain the range of Keynote solutions, from website and mobile performance monitoring through to self-service or managed load services, and how they can be accessed and monitored through the myKeynote portal.

The webinar finished with a question and answer session, in which questions ranged from how Charles Vögele would expand its multichannel services in future, to its use of promotions, and how Keynote could be used to monitor custom transactions.

To hear the webinar for yourself, to view the accompanying slides and hear the question and answer session, visit the Keynote Systems webinar page on the Internet Retailing website. To view some of our other webinars visit our webinars page.

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