Worried About the Performance of Your SAP® Integrated B2B eCommerce Website?

Well you should be.

After 3 seconds of waiting you’re going to lose 57% of your b2b ecommerce users.  If that’s not enough to fuel your performance anxieties, I don’t know what is.

Check out this infographic by the team at Strangeloop Networks:
impact of SAP performance on b2b ecommerce traffic patterns

Site performance and its affect on b2b ecommerce

We at Corevist obsess over the performance of our client’s websites.

To inform our obsession, as part of our standard operating procedures, we capture an extensive array of temporal data about each and every user’s visit to our websites.  In particular, we pay special attention to the time it takes for SAP® to process the results of real time queries and updates.  Over the years, we’ve found that SAP®’s processing time is the ultimate constraint on end-user response times.  (That’s why we’re so looking forward to the success of SAP®’s Hana as a platform for Business Suite Applications).

Last week, with the help of our Director of IT, Justin Diana, I looked at SAP® performance data across a slice of our production clients.  The following graph tells our story.

SAP Response Times and their impact on b2b ecommerce

Methodology

  • To begin with, the plotted data was harvested from 13 of our production clients’ operational logs during the first 3 weeks of May 2014.
  • Our client’s SAP® data centers are spread out all over the US and in Switzerland and Germany.
  • During that period, our clients SAP® systems processed 220,000 real time calls to SAP® (for order simulation and order creation)
  • This represented almost 1 Million line items processed (checked for availability, pricing and posted to SAP® in real time)

Reading the Chart

  • The Y axis plots the SAP® response time in seconds
  • The X axis plots the number of line items in an order
  • The orange squares depict the total SAP® processing time (which makes up the bulk of the response time that the user experiences)
  • The blue diamonds depict the calculated response time per line item processed.  (this represents the absolute minimum time required to process a 1 line item order)
  • Each client has a matched pair of one plotted orange square and one blue diamond.

The Results

  1. All of the sampled clients (except 1…labelled “A”) have calculated unit response times (blue diamonds) below, or significantly below, 1 second.
  2. The vast majority of the sampled clients (labelled “B”)  have total processing times of less than 3 seconds.  They are safely below the threshold presented at the beginning of this post. (whew!)
  3. One of our clients (labelled “A”) has a seriously challenged SAP® system (>4 seconds calculated unit response time).
  4. One of our clients (labelled “C”) has a very fast SAP® system (<0.3s calculated unit response time) but their business is such that their website users mostly process large orders (~30 line items per order).

Discussion

First of all, one big difference between B2C and B2B eCommerce websites are that B2B users are typically more tolerant of response time issues.  I think that’s for two reasons:

  1. They’re simply happy to have a website they can go to and get away from the archaic phone/fax/emails of yesteryear.
  2. The website is doing more work for them.
  3. They may not have much of a choice if they want to buy that product from a particular supplier and their website is the only place they can get it.

An example of the website doing more work for them is in the client labelled “C”.  The average total response time by SAP® is a little over 8 seconds for each website user.  According to the folks who authored the 3 second response time study, customers should be abandoning their B2B eCommerce website in droves.  But 8 seconds is a phenomenally short period of time to wait to get confirmation that you’ve entered all of the 30 line items in an order correctly, they’re available and priced correctly and you can receive confirmation of their intended ship date.

If you stop to consider that the elapsed time to get that done prior to being able to go to a SAP® Integrated eCommerce website was days (faxes, phone calls, emails, time zone differences etc.), websites users are quite happy with 8 second response times.

Accurate and reliable information is definitely worth the “wait”.

As far as the “not have much of a choice” as a reason to be tolerant, that in fact is a horrible reason for Suppliers not to address website performance, usability or capability deficiencies.  But we all live in the real world and have competing priorities for our scarce resources.  We at Corevist take the responsibility of making sure that our clients have all the information they need to make the right decisions.  In this case, our client “A”, has been creeping into the performance abyss for the past couple of months.  Our data not only showed them their declining trend, but we’ve also provided them a benchmark as to “best practices” in our client base.  Our average client’s SAP® system processes a single line item order in 0.4436 seconds.  Their 4.96 seconds per line item is an order of magnitude higher than it should be.

It’s time for them to buy more hardware or audit some of those user exits.

Or….upgrade to SAP® Hana, run the whole thing in memory and then make the time that electrons flow between the user, our data center and their data center, the new bottleneck.

We’ll be ready.

Sam

 

 

 

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Sarah Moessinger
Sam Bayer
Ray Mannion
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