As an e-commerce website owner you care about how your customers behave: why do they come to your website, which items or services are they most interested in, how much time do they spend on certain pages, and is their user experience above par? Also, it is very important to keep your website secure, as you can rest assured that no one wants to leave their payment details on an unsecured website.
Why perform log analysis in e-commerce?
Monitoring your website’s performance can give you a competitive advantage in the market, and ensure that your e-commerce business is running like a well-oiled machine. To ensure that the customer journey through the sales funnel is not interrupted by technical issues during login, registration, or checkout - log files are the way to go. Monitor the following:
- Response and Page Load Times - You have up to four seconds to present the content and keep a visitor on your website. If the load time exceeds these four seconds, it’s likely that visitor will deem your website as faulty and move on. Logs allow you to pinpoint the cause of the delays.
- HTTP Errors - Caused by broken links and overloaded servers, these errors prevent the visitor from completing their transaction.
- Geolocation - By analyzing log data, you can determine where most of your customers and visitors come from. Knowing this information allows you to jumpstart targeted campaigns (coupons for example) or even translate the content of your website if you realize that, let's say, a lot of visitors come from Spanish-speaking territories.
- Peak Activity Times - If you face issues with site performance at certain times during the day, consult your logs about minute-by-minute traffic. An increased number of visitors may impact the stability of your online shop, so you may want to consider upgrading the architecture.
What to look out for in e-commerce logging
Considering the power of e-commerce business, the amount of data generated by these websites is considerable. In fact, there is so much data that it’s impossible to go through it manually. That being said, with a proper log management tool, handling this data is easy. All you need to do is focus on critical points in the customer’s journey:
- Registration / Login
It starts with user registration. If logging in and re-logging in occurs, that means that you are seeing your visitor and a potential buyer for the second time. However, old-fashioned registration (in which the user is expected to create a profile from scratch) is gradually becoming obsolete. Nowadays, a lot of potential shoppers opt to link the new profile with an existing one - predominantly Google and Facebook accounts.
Therefore, it is of utmost importance to track authentication and authorization cookies that are out of sync, social media login errors, as well as any errors generated by additional authentication checks. All of these should be logged and addressed if necessary.
- Add to cart
“Add to cart” is the next step through the sales funnel and the event that marks the increasing likeliness of conversion. However, on rare occasions, bad inventory availability checks, bad data, or simply a bug prevents the user from adding the item they desire into the cart, or - even worse - makes them think they bought something that will never arrive.
By logging all failures that are related to the “add to cart” feature, you can ensure that the customer finishes the journey through the sales funnel. If the logs tell you that something is amiss, ensure that you react as soon as possible.
Checkout means that the user has almost completed their journey through the funnel and that conversion is imminent. And while stating that keeping this process up and running without issues may be obvious, the complexity of the process is something to be kept in mind. What’s more, there are several important aspects of the checkout process that require your attention during log analysis:
- Address collection
- Shipping estimation
- Payment processing
- Tax calculation
- Authentication and authorization logic
All of these events will be logged and available for analysis. Keep in mind that this is the crucial moment in the customer’s journey and can be the point that the user will get the “impression” of doing business with you. Hiccups this close to the end of the process may leave them wondering whether you really want their money.
- Email signup
Gathering email addresses as leads is something every marketing manager does,no matter the business they are in. Often, email is the only trace you have of your customer and the only thing you can hang on to when trying to pull them into the funnel.
Even though the visitor does not make a purchase on your website, leaving their email is a small victory in the everlasting battle for customers. Therefore, keep an eye on your logs to ensure that the process in question is functioning without issues. Keep in mind that only some of the business logic for email signup presentation may exist client-side, so keeping tabs on those executions as well as server issues might be a good idea.
Log analysis is crucial for the proper administration of not only an e-commerce website, but any website that is expected to work without issues, to say the least. Analyzing log data provides you with inside information that not only ensures your site is glitch-free, but it can be a powerful tool. It allows you to optimize your business by making strategic changes concerning pricing, product offers, and customer focus.