John Kendall, business manager at Rainfinity, said many e-business sites welcome customers then leave them to face the hazards of lost transactions and disappearing shopping carts resulting from system failures. These events can be catastrophic for a business because customers, faced with the need to re-enter the site, will often go elsewhere to find a more reliable site.
"If a transaction fails, the customer is often left in the dark and has to decide what action to take. Without proper attention, most will choose to go elsewhere," he said.
Rainassure automates the transaction monitoring process. It runs on two clustered servers fronting up to five Web servers. As transactions come in, copies are made by the software and the data is forwarded to the Web servers. In the event of a failure, Rainassure checks whether the whole transaction failed or whether it was successfully logged by the back-end system and the site merely failed to notify the customer.
Initially, the customer is informed that the transaction is being checked and, if the transaction failed to register, the details entered are restored on the customer's screen so the transaction can be resubmitted. If the transaction was logged, the system informs the customer to avoid order duplication.
Rainassure allows online customers to be retained even when a failure occurs which disables the back-end Web transaction system. Customers can be asked to come back later, when alerted by e-mail, and can even be offered a discount to compensate for the inconvenience.
Research by Aspect Consulting, commissioned by Rainfinity, shows that only half of the 92 European businesses surveyed have any form of monitoring for online transactions. And 60% those who do monitoring rely on the customer alerting them of online failures. The most successful sites were found to be the bricks-and-clicks organisations - companies that have learnt the value of customer care in a traditional retail environment.