In eCommerce, Be Really, Really Redundant

Posted by Dawn Mortensen, June 24th, 2013 at 10:06 am PST
Categories: eCommerce, Navigation, Site Search, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
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In many situations in life, redundancy is undesirable. Our language and writing teachers told us to avoid use of redundant phrases – totally destroyed, armed gunman, exact same, merge together… you get the idea. In business, a company merger creates redundancies in job positions, which can mean layoffs. In many situations where efficiency is prized, redundancy almost seems to be its antonym – unless you work in high tech, especially cloud computing, where redundancy of servers and data centers is preventing the major inefficiency of downtime.

In the world of SaaS, redundancy is a competitive advantage. Software as a Service companies with redundant data centers are hosting client sites and customer data on multiple servers in multiple locations – each mirroring the other so that any of them can keep the customer site going if there’s a problem with the others. This redundancy allows the SaaS company to keep its customers’ sites running during spikes in traffic or unexpected outages.

Downtime is especially detrimental in eCommerce; online buyers can be ruthless when they encounter it. Surveys by Akamai and Gomez.com show that among shoppers who have trouble with a web site’s performance, 79% will never return to buy from that site again. Plus, 44% say they would tell a friend about their poor experience. Even a few minutes of downtime can result in dozens of lost customers on an ordinary day. Imagine the effect of downtime during a peak shopping day like Cyber Monday!

How can eCommerce businesses manage this risk and stay up and running in a way that’s affordable? In the blog Built-In Redundancy to Prepare for Natural Disasters, SLI Systems CEO Shaun Ryan explains how, as a SaaS-based provider of advanced site search and navigation, SLI processes billions of queries and serves up search results for its customers via multiple servers in each of eight data centers in locations around the world. SLI servers are filled to just a fraction of their capacity to allow for spikes in customers’ site traffic. Simply by contracting with SLI to get better results and more conversions from site searches, an eTailer has the added protection of redundancy.

During Hurricane Sandy, for example, not one of our customers saw a break in service. Though headquartered in California, SLI was founded in Christchurch, New Zealand, which was hit by two major earthquakes in the past three years. By personal experience, we’ve learned how important it is to be prepared for natural disasters. And we want our customers to be prepared, as well. That’s why we offer redundancy at no added cost to our clients.

This year, a stronger-than-normal Atlantic hurricane season is predicted through the end of November. Especially with back-to-school and even holiday shopping spikes on the horizon, now is the time to move to a full-service site search provider that can help you handle the load.

We don’t get uptime perfect – no one does. We had an unusual three-minute outage one night about a month ago. Our redundant architecture quickly kicked-in, resulting in no downtime for our customers. We found that the outage was due to human error, from a break in our process, and we made the necessary changes to ensure it wouldn’t happen again. Although none of our customers were affected, we still sent out email notifications outlining what had happened. One of our customers, Ian MacDonald of PartySuppliesDelivered.com, wrote a nice email to express his appreciation for our honest communication about the event.

 

Thanks, Ian. We’re honest and transparent because we know it builds customer trust (plus it’s just who we are). We appreciate you, too.

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One Response to “In eCommerce, Be Really, Really Redundant”

  1. How Redundancy Can be a Competitive Advantage in eCommerce : Stephen E. Arnold @ Beyond Search Says:

    […] recent SLI Systems article, “In eCommerce Be, really, really redundant” makes the argument that, unlike most situations, in cloud computing redundancy can be quite […]

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