Chances are you’ve come across a virtual waiting room in the last 12 months while you were shopping online. With online traffic hitting record heights last year, the idea to digitize the antechamber began to seep into mainstream ecommerce thinking.
This user experience feature works particularly well for when traffic simply becomes too much, too overwhelming. When a user enters the site, they’re redirected to a waiting room. And when time favors them, the glittered doors to the site reopen, on a first-come, first-served basis.
(If site traffic remains steady and manageable, then no digital visitor will see the waiting room.)
The issue of traffic can become a particular problem for brands depending on the ecommerce platform they’re hosted on. That’s because some platforms are better than others when it comes to scalability – platforms like WooCommerce not so much; Salesforce Commerce Cloud very much so.
The idea of a virtual waiting room is a symptom of success: there are so many users and returning customers heading to your site that it’s at risk of collapsing.
Even on brand websites that host their site on Salesforce Commerce Cloud may opt to use a waiting room. In fact, the number one ecommerce platform for big-volume, complex companies has a cartridge (Salesforce-speak for extension) for building them. One such solution is called Queue-It, which is used by hundreds of brands and retailers that use it for surges in traffic – like for Black Friday and much-marketed product releases.
“Hold up a second,” you’re probably thinking, “how is it good to have shoppers wait?”
For sure it sounds counterintuitive because nobody wants to wait – and we’re most impatient when we’re shopping online, where much like the 100m race, every millisecond counts when it comes to site speed.
But don’t take literally the words “waiting” and “room.” Don’t send your visitors to a drab page void of life and color. Remodel the waiting room into an “interactive” “experience.” There are endless possibilities (depending on the range of creativity of your team) to create and develop quality customer experiences as they wait.
Here are some good examples of an ecommerce waiting room.
Here are some of the key benefits of an effective ecommerce waiting room – which essentially build on top of the best benefit of preventing a site shutdown:
Boost conversion rates
When online users click on an ecommerce site and it fails, they leave, and head elsewhere. When online users click on an ecommerce site and they’re redirected to a waiting room, many will leave, and head elsewhere. Yet many will stick around, get let in, and buy something.
There is no doubt that waiting rooms lead to a loss of potential customers. But they also hold onto others. There is a clear comparative advantage in the second option.
There is also a psychological element at play here. Human behavior gravitates towards carrying on with a particular task if they’ve already invested some kind of time, effort, or money. And this works for websites and users.
I’ll give you one example: have you ever noticed that the majority of your online order payments go through visible stages of progress? That’s because progress bars are well known in the industry to encourage consumers to continue until purchase, with its gamification quality.
Provide live communication
Waiting rooms provide brands with the ability to communicate with their visitors about what’s happening, their position in line, and estimated waiting time.
Nothing is more annoying than when you phone a customer service number and get a robot to communicate with, who then puts you on hold… indefinitely… to the sound of soothing piano music. Then it goes silent. Then the music loops, until you throw your phone on the sofa, which promptly boomerangs onto the floor, and have to find a phone repair shop to fix the screen.
The reason my phone is now broken is due to the company not providing me with any information whatsoever: why am I waiting? What position am I in? How long am I going to be waiting for? I’m never going to know.
Work with psychological cues and consumer behavior, and think of building a waiting room.
Provide a seamless digital experience
Don’t put a halt to the digital experience that your website should be offering right off the bat. When a user clicks on your homepage, they expect to begin a journey whether they know what they’re looking for or not.
Brands and retailers can kick start this journey – albeit one that is not anticipated – by making as seamless an experience as possible by customizing the waiting room and plaster it with your brand’s style and creativity.
What’s more, ensure a visitor can continue the digital experience across devices: those who enter the site on their laptop can shift over to their phone via an email notification – yes, keeping their same spot in line.
The wait is over
Having your ecommerce site struggle under the weight of traffic, or at worst completely crash, can be devastating for a business. The longer it’s down the greater the stream of potential sales divert towards competitors.
Expanding your site to include a waiting room to filter through the visitors who are unable to gain access to the site will help stem the loss of potential customers and ultimately sales.