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As COVID-19 slowly takes over the globe being declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), digital customer habits have been dramatically changing over the past two weeks. Fuelled by media outlets, shopping anxiety has been on the rise and fewer users are buying products sourced from China.
In the UK, the virus has led to 21% of people avoiding UK tourist attractions, 19% of people refusing to order products from outside the UK and 9% of people choosing not to enter the high street, as fears of contamination rise.
In the wake of these consumer and lifestyle changes, businesses worldwide have begun adapting their work-based processes in favour of home or distance working with COVID-19 becoming a greater threat as the weeks progress. Just this week Google's North American office imposed an advisory work-from-home option in an attempt to reduce possible staff contamination, and to ensure Google's digital health is maintained.
But it's not all doom and gloom, for solely digital businesses the virus presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to attract large volumes of new customers with a digital-first approach. Online shopping is surging in popularity and offering customers a digital experience that is seamless, intuitive and most importantly free of bugs will lead to higher levels of return customers as they trust the website or app's functionality. The last thing a business wants right now is a website or app that fails to function as intended, aggravating already anxious customers and leading to a complaint filled social media out pour.
For e-commerce brands, digital experience has become a vital differentiator and a key driver for competitive advantage - read more here.
How to treat a virus
Just like the COVID-19 virus, the only way to examine the health of a website or app is through testing. In the same way travellers are undergoing blood tests and temperature checks, your website needs to be functionally tested and stress-tested to ensure customer journeys are performing as intended, and to ensure your website or app can handle large volumes of traffic over extended periods of time.
Website testing services such as functionality testing and stress testing aren't new to many working within the digital sector, and if your business has enough internal resources it's likely that you already perform these tests on a frequent basis. But what happens when your teams work from home? Do they have the tools to perform these tests accurately and employ the changes? Do you have the time and resources needed to perform a large-scale stress test if and when users flock to your site instead of heading to the high street?
These questions and questions alike will keep many Heads of Digital and Ecommerce Directors awake at night as the integrity of their website's health and performance could be at risk. You don't want to risk losing thousands of loyal users and potential conversions due to poor site maintenance during one of the largest digital booms the industry has seen in the last 10 years.
Change means progress
The COVID-19 virus hasn't affected any other industry more than the travel industry. As Italy goes into shut-down mode, multiple countries ban flights abroad and holidaymakers cancel their travel plans, the travel industry is clutching at straws just to get by.
Popular room booking company Airbnb has already begun launching new functionalities and options offering greater flexibility to those with pre-planned arrangements. As of early March, Airbnb introduced a flexible reservation policy "to help hosts and guests cancel bookings without taking a loss". This will be introduced until June 1st as the travel industry attempts to employ damage control practices. This new option and others alike have placed greater pressure on internal teams to churn out new functionalities that minimise the level of disruption.
But with high levels of anxiety and stress felt by users and internal teams alike producing functionalities quickly consequently reduces the quality of the output. Internal teams are more focused on getting new products to market rather than testing the quality before launch. Say you plan to launch a new functionality in the next week, you don't have time to internally test this product before it's in the hands of a customer due to final checks. This is where external quick website testing companies like Digivante are essential. We can test your website or app's functionality in just 3 -5 days depending on the project's size, testing even on weekends with the results sitting on your desk by Monday.
As the COVID-19 virus changes customer and business habits worldwide, ensuring your website and app's digital performance and health is maintained without bugs will separate the brands that can change the potentially damaging situation into one of surplus benefit, delighting the new wave of customers choosing to shop online.