How important are the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) in pumping up sales or just getting more conversions towards those specific goals in your online business? If you have ambitions to grow as large as Amazon or as quickly as Airbnb, then it has to be a top priority. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said that the company’s investment towards creating the right UX was 100 times more than what it spent on marketing. Airbnb cofounder Joe Gebbia credits the emphasis on UX for the hospitality startup entering the unicorn club and having IPO aspirations.
A big part of UX is actually the site performance. The load time of a website can negatively impact the business metrics of any brand. Online shopping websites and ecommerce platforms need to be lightning quick to not lose their customers to rivals which are faster to load.
While the BBC noticed a 10% increase in users abandoning a page for every additional second it took to load, Google’s DoubleClick found that 53% of mobile site visits were abandoned if the page took longer than 3 seconds to load. On the other hand, Google found 70% longer sessions, 35% lower bounce rates, and 25% higher ad views when a page took less than 5 seconds to load.
Clearly, the key to keeping visitors engaged and on your site is attention to detail and emphasis on UX optimisation. For startups and new businesses, bad user experience can result in a real loss of revenue as it directly contributes to the bounce rate of your website. A small business might not be able to do this on its own and that’s where it would need a web performance and security service, such as the one provided by the likes of Akamai, Cloudflare, N7 (Nitrogen), Cloudfront and Fastly.
While Cloudflare and Akamai are two of the most popular such services, Indian startup N7 has quickly emerged as competition on the horizon for those big corporations. Founded in April 2017 by Gautam Gurtoo, Manoj Bubna and Biren Shah, N7 helps businesses optimise the web and mobile applications to accommodate more users and orders as these businesses scale up. N7’s product Nitrogen doesn’t interfere with the existing code of the clients but ensures fast performance nonetheless. Working seamlessly with all ecommerce platforms, it improves both performance and security, thus making a storefront available even in peak traffic.
A cloud-based platform with edge servers all over the world, Nitrogen provides last-mile web service delivery to its customers. Leveraging ML-based systems such as the transformation engine and security engine as well as many rules that have been created to detect intrusion attempts, it optimises the performance and secures the client application.
To protect the data of its customers, Nitrogen has an inbuilt Web Application Firewall (WAF) and provides security against DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) and cyber-attacks. The startup told Inc42 that it provides 100% HTTPS traffic and secure browser interactions. It helps in maintaining the integrity of the data by preventing a breach of customer data and protecting customer identities.
Nitrogen Inception, Innovation And Impact
Passionate about digital commerce, the founders have over 50 years of experience between them, in providing tech solutions and ecommerce strategy for businesses, along with an agile development platform for ecommerce companies. The passion to improve website performance to improve business metrics is what led them to set up Nitrogen.
The startup told Inc42 that online retailers using Nitrogen scaled up efficiently, especially during the holiday season handling 7-10 times more users without adding additional infrastructure. Online stores on Nitrogen were able to maximise monetisation during peak traffic and sale season.
It claims to have helped ecommerce businesses cut down infrastructure costs by up to 40%, increase customer engagement by having higher pages per session resulting in increased CSAT by 20%. Further, it claims to have delivered the following success points for its clients:
- Decrease in bounce rates by 15%
- Increase in traffic by 15%
- Increase in AOV by 12%
- Increase in conversion rate by 7%
- 30% faster page loads (improvement in web performance)
- Improved customer engagement with 25% higher pages per session
Other non-quantifiable gains are:
- Increase in speed helps the customer add more feature set to the pages which otherwise would be pushed back from the DevOps team
- Horizontal scalability helps the customer manage cost and increase traffic without tradeoffs
The Road Ahead And Challenges For N7
N7 ’s Nitrogen breaks pages down granularly, storing static data closer to the customer, and retrieving only the most dynamic data from the customer servers. This makes the product ROI positive, and the same is echoed by its clients spread across India, the US and Europe. N7 counts companies such as Shoppers Stop, Plantronics, Croma, Bajaj Allianz, BabyDestination, and many more among its customer base.
The startup claims that it has helped websites and mobile applications achieve advanced security standards for users in all locations. With the security module working on a machine learning engine to prevent Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and external attacks, N7’s Nitrogen platform has managed to gain customer trust with its focus on performance and security. It believes Indian businesses had been very fortunate and were riding below the radar for the last few years but things have changed dramatically in the last few months because of high profile M&A transactions.
Today, it has become absolutely necessary for websites to have internet security to prevent DDoS attacks & any attempt to steal data. They also need to ensure that the provider does the application scanning along with manual penetration testing to figure out the vulnerabilities of the system.
While it already has products such as Nitrogen that works on website optimisation, UX and uptime, N7 is testing other products such as Commerce Sense (analytics intelligence) and Commerce Wisdom (marketing intelligence) and plans to release them soon. In terms of geographies, while India remains its focus currently, the startup is trying to target more US and Europe customers in the coming two years.
During the initial 6-9 months, the founders engrossed themselves in alpha and beta testing for their platform and products. It was during this time that retail giant Croma went live on Nitrogen and in July 2018, Shoppers Stop became an enterprise customer on Nitrogen.
But the challenge for a startup such as N7 is competing against the scale and economies of competition such as Akamai, Cloudflare, Cloudfront and Fastly. These have established a presence with decades of experience in the internet economy and have massive resources to fall back on to compete with the likes of N7.
Where N7 has an advantage is in the way it can customise solutions for ecommerce platforms and any web-based business. Its ML-based platform’s sharp focus to improve performance, scale & security is what gives the cloud startup an edge. The fact that N7 has managed to attract big-name clients in its first few years bodes well for the company’s chances in the long run, but competition is quite intense in this space, and it has to continuously update its platform to keep up with its rivals.