Online shopping is an entirely different beast compared to what it was just a few short years ago; seemingly overnight, the world has embraced an appetite for digital-first careers, services, connections and, you guessed it, shopping experiences. To satiate this appetite, e-commerce companies have had to accelerate their digital transformation journey and provide an online experience that better aligns with their customer’s new, post-pandemic needs, says Ed Gray, UKCE senior sales director for commerce at Fastly.
Web and application-based store fronts must be fast, flexible and functional if they’re to meet these demands, and the edge cloud is their best bet at doing just that whilst simultaneously prioritising performance and cutting costs.
Consumers want it all, and they want it now
Speed is everything when it comes to e-commerce. If a store or application is slow to load or troubled with performance issues, shoppers will flock to one that works. As such, factors like time-to-first-byte (TTFB), customer churn and bounce rates have become important metrics that determine e-commerce success.
Compared to limited, legacy CDNs, edge cloud has made fast TTFB and low bounce rates far more achievable for today’s retailers due to real-time purge capabilities and the resultant ability to deliver increasingly complex content, and even application logic, at the edge. With these and other applications sat firmly at the edge of the network, customers benefit from reduced latency, better application performance and quicker speeds, all of which contribute to a fast and easy shopping experience.
Just ask Edgemesh, a provider of client-side optimisation for e-commerce customers that achieved 5x improvements in TTFB, a 2.5x reduction in request times at the median, and a 50% reduction in tail latency since switching to Fastly’s Compute@Edge. A serverless compute platform, Compute@Edge empowers retail developers to run code that’s safe, secure and scalable at the edge, so retail-adjacent applications, like Edgemesh’s, can deliver highly personable, highly immersive experiences with ease. Individually, since switching to Compute@Edge, Edgemesh’s end customers fared even better, with one reporting a 90% reduction in request times.
The price is right (at the edge)
It’s not just performance that benefits from the edge cloud. Online retailers can cut storage, bandwidth and data management costs by offloading content at the edge. While legacy CDNs similarly sit at the edge, their low cache hit ratio means unwanted latency and unreasonable costs. But at the real edge? Caches can be purged, stale content can be forgotten about, and latency-related costs can become a thing of the past.
And that reduction in latency directly impacts the shoppers’ experience. No more slow loading times, no more performance issues and no more fretting over complex image delivery, as image transformation is radically simplified at the edge. While doing this at scale proves costly, the edge cloud provides an alternative route to delivering a premium service without the premium price tag.
All of this is to say that, thanks to the edge, customers can expect a quick and consistent experience whenever they engage with an e-commerce site or app regardless of their connection or device of choice.
For Edgemesh customers, that improved customer experience meant rapid spikes in conversion rates thanks to its Compute@Edge implementation, with one customer quickly achieving its first million-dollar monthly turnover. Beyond this, other customers noted immediate peaks, often up to 50%, in organic traffic to their sites, thanks to Edgemesh Server’s fully automatic dynamic rendering, which paved the way for a more interactive, more immersive site experience.
The edge awaits
Long past the point of ‘nice to have’, the edge cloud has become a vital component for e-commerce companies wanting to meet the needs of their digitally driven customers head on. By embracing the edge, online retailers will see customer satisfaction, sales and loyalty soar, as bounce rates, customer churn and infrastructure and latency costs steadily decrease.
The author is Ed Gray, UKCE senior sales director for commerce at Fastly.
About the author
Ed Gray is UKCE senior sales director for commerce at Fastly, the global edge cloud platform, where he is responsible for helping enterprise retailers provide highly performant and secure experiences for their customers to ensure they remain relevant, competitive, and to ultimately drive revenue growth.
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