For many ecommerce sites, the time from Halloween through Christmas signals a code freeze for the software development team. Whether done to reduce the risk of disruption to your site due to increased holiday traffic, to test new module functionality in a safer environment, or to refresh your development team, it has become the industry norm to encourage a code freeze among developers.
Since no code changes can be made during the code freeze, many companies spend the time cleaning up minor security vulnerabilities or tackling a backlog on non-coding projects, companies looking to hit the ground running once the code freeze ends, are spending time launching projects that will provide strategic direction in the coming new year.
Along with code freeze, companies constantly struggle with development constraints. If this is something you are struggling with in your organization, you may find our master class, “Overcoming Development Constraints,” useful.
Strategic Planning During a Code Freeze
Whether you are a well-established, seasoned e-commerce business, or a startup heading into your first code freeze, spending the development process pause to collect and analyze data to strategically plan for the next year can help increase conversions and sales.
Conduct Consumer Research
In ecommerce, the ticket to higher conversions is to understand your customers. Understanding customers comes from conducting consumer research. A code freeze is a great time to dig into existing and conduct new consumer research. Powerful insights can come from hearing directly from your consumers via email surveys, customer service interviews, and reviewing social media comments. These insights can help define which new features should be planned to reach business goals.
Analyze Buyer Behavior
Beyond consumer research, a code freeze is a great time to dig into the analytics of buyer behavior. If you are using a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, insightful reports can be generated at the click of a button, such as buyer responsiveness to promotions, email behaviors, and social media engagement. If you can identify which factors affect customers’ buying behavior, you can plan accordingly for the coming new year.
Refine Your Content
Based on the information found while conducting consumer research, content changes can be made and tested on your ecommerce site. Because of the increased number of visitors during the busy holiday season, A/B testing can be conducted with statistical significance being reached quickly. When making changes, it is recommended to start with small tweaks to ensure your changes are positively impacting conversions during the busy buying time.
Don’t miss the opportunity to capture a large amount of data analytics during a time of increased traffic. Specifically, consider capturing data via heatmaps to identify your website's hotspots and click maps to track a buyer’s journey on your site. Capturing this data will allow you to improve the customer experience with potential modifications to your workflow or visual studio once the code freeze is removed.
Companies who spend their code freeze looking beyond bug fixes and troubleshooting can gain a competitive advantage. Viewing a code freeze as an opportunity to dedicate a period of time to collect and analyze purposeful metrics on customers, better positions ecommerce businesses to create new code that drives conversions and increases sales.