For years, Keynote has been monitoring the ‘net’s best websites and reporting on notable outages during the peak Black Friday and Cyber Monday online shopping period. Typically, we find that many online retail sites—both pure Internet and those with brick and mortar stores—experience some issues. But the trend has been towards better performance and higher availability. This year marks yet more progress toward the goal of a trouble-free and virtually instant shopping experience. And the numbers suggest the payoff for retailers has been huge: a record setting $1.25 billion in online sales for Cyber Monday, 2011.
The Keynote Top Retailers Index tracks 47 online shopping destinations. This year, the average website response time was 3.05 seconds. According to a study by IBM, online sales peaked at about mid-day, and spiked again later in the evening. Average response times across the Top Retailer Index reflected this pattern as peaking demand slowed sites. But the absolute impact even at its worst was only about 1 second of delay. That’s great performance across the industry as a whole.
Additionally, the availability of these websites remained extremely high throughout the period. Out of the 47 sites tracked, only 10 (21%) experienced any downtime at all and their average availability was around 99.0%.
So how did online retailers get to this pinnacle? We see that customers are maturing the technology, processes and culture of their Web Operations around a passion for performance and deep preparation. One example of this is Keynote customer Karmaloop.com who rang up their biggest day in company history and over 100% more sales than the same period last year. Though careful planning and web load testing, they were able prepare their site for the demands of such a dramatic increase in traffic and order transactions.
The improving trend in website performance throughout the increasingly demanding Black Friday and Cyber Monday period is encouraging. But it also means that if your site experiences failure or less than stellar performance, your competitor is in a much better position to attract and retain your abandoning customers. Congratulations to the online retail industry for hitting a remarkable milestone over the past six days. Keep pushing performance higher through December!