Case Study: Black Friday Website Outages, Downtime, Average Page Speed


The Internet Retailer 500 … and the rest of us

While we all have heard the stats regarding the Internet Retailer top 500 and how they dominate the majority of overall online sales there is a interesting group of midsized online retailers that is growing under the radar. We did some testing on those midsized retailers. the tests revealed both positives and areas to improve.

In February, the US Department of Commerce reported that consumers spent $194.3B online in 2011, as reported by Internet Retailer, of which the top 500 Internet Retailers represent 77% of total retail sales in tallying $150B in revenue.  In 2011 the overall growth rate for e-commerce US websites was at 16%., yet the top 500 sites grew at a rate of 20.4%.  The yearly sales for the top 500 e-tailers ranged from $48.08B-$17.69M in revenue.

Internet 500-1000 Companies

Surprisingly the next companies, #500-1000 only had a combined $2.47B in sales, with sales for those companies ranging from $17.69M-$184,000 in annual revenue.  Many small-medium online retailers that are in the growth stage focus their efforts on new product development, proficient fulfillment of goods, and clean website design and functionality.  What many of the larger e-tailers are attentively doing is monitoring very distinct ways to ensure their customer’s experience is optimized for overall efficiency.  With key online days approaching, notably Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Holiday season; online companies of any size should be concerned about overall conversion rates.

Testing 20 Online Retailers for Page Speed

Black Friday Website Outages - Speed Test

Black Friday Website Outages – Speed Test

Dotcom-Monitor recently chose 20 midsized online companies to monitor for one week from those ranked 500-600 in the Internet Retailer 2011 ranking. We focused our monitoring on a demographic that encompasses what is considered a mid-size company, not large enough to have inexhaustible budgets, and just large enough to begin considering ways to optimize web site performance.  By testing their websites at a 15-minute frequency from nine North American monitoring locations for seven days using a non-caching, Internet Explorer browser we were able to pinpoint potential areas to improve and issues  to avoid. To run a similar free IE browser test click here.

The average render time in an IE browser for these sites was 6.67 seconds.  While five of these twenty retailers had very quick response times, between 2.94 seconds and 4.48 seconds, there also were four with response times between 9.71 seconds and 11.73 seconds. Based on our decade-plus experience in this industry, we are aware that many companies are simply unaware of the issues that cause customers to abandon their shopping carts. Studies have shown for every second a website is delayed, a 7% conversion rate drop is occurring. Many of these delays in page render time were due to third party hosted aspects that are consistently not performing.  Many companies are simply not aware of third party element performance issues because they are not monitoring, are monitoring only with HTTP (instead of a real browser), or are monitoring using a service that caches.

Uptime/Downtime

In terms of uptime, 16 of the 20 companies had 100% uptime for the week tested.  For the other four retailers, their uptime ranged from 96.26% to 98.34%.  For those four companies that were not at 100% uptime,  again many of the issues were due to third party hosted page aspects. The third-party issues did not equate to having a entire website that was completely unavailable. but it did mean these third party aspects were not available at time and overall website performance was negatively impacted.

Black Friday

Dotcom-Monitor will continue to monitor these twenty companies for site render speed using a browser and uptime during the busy online season.  We will specifically test during Black Friday through Cyber Monday to determine if there are performance issues that may cause a dip in overall web sales.

Check out Dotcom-Monitor’s Free Website Speed Test to see how you rank with these 20 companies.

Free Website Speed Test

Black Friday Special: Sign up for a 1 Month Free Trial that allows you to set-up test and use all Dotcom-Monitor.com website and application monitoring services. during the online retail season. You’ll also receive complimentary set-up and technical expertise from a Dotcom-Monitor account representative.

Black Friday - Is Your Website Ready

 


About

Dan is the Manager of Market Development at Dotcom-Monitor. Connect with Dan on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.

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