For some online retailers the post Black Thursday eve, post Black Friday, post Cyber Monday analysis will be a time of joy and dreaming about a repeat in Black Friday 2013. For others it will be a tired “it was a perfect storm” excuse and finger pointing starting on Tuesday morning Nov. 27, 212. Why? Because invariably there are going to be websites that crash and burn during these peak days in the Black Friday 2012 online retail season. So, lets jump ahead, Back to the Future-style, and provide a few advance diagnostics that these soon-to-be, crash-and-burn online retail websites could have done in 5-minutes to save their 2012 seasons – before the big online shopping days actually arrive.
Dotcom-Monitor is currently monitoring the 12 Minnesota online retailers that ranked in the Internet Retailer 500 list in 2011. The website monitoring platform is currently aggregating information on Minnesota online retailers webpage speed, uptime / downtime, and details on the page element performance. Website homepages are being tested via an Internet Explorer browser running full page renders every 15 minutes from nine North American locations. These tests will not only provide a baseline for Minnesota’s top online retailers, but will also provide Dotcom-Monitor the data and analytics to pinpoint issues that occur on these Minnesota online company websites in relation to Black Friday, the Holiday Season and the increased traffic and server stress that will ensue.
Black Thursday Eve, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, are here and web sales are expected to increase up to 18% this holiday shopping season compared to 2011, according to ComScore. Last year’s online retail holiday sales were $37.2 billion. Unfortunately, some website owners will discover that their website’s speed and performance does not meet customer expectations and they’ll miss out on their piece of the web sale pie.
So, with pressure on e-commerce websites to perform, web operation personnel are tasked to make websites look great and handle the stress points of added holiday traffic. Moreover, 2011-2012 has seen an explosion in the use third-party apps such as widgets, social media buttons, and third party icons that impact website speed and performance.
Based on Internet Retailer magazine’s listing of the Internet Retailer 500, there are 12 Minnesota companies that ranked in the top 500 in 2011. With that in mind, Dotcom-Monitor (also a Minnesota-based company) set-up basic monitoring on these 12 top Minnesota online company homepages (run your own test here). The website monitoring gathered information on Minnesota online webpage speed, uptime/downtime, and details on the page element performance. By testing their home pages using an IE browser running every 15 minutes from nine North American locations over the course of a week, Dotcom-Monitor was able to pinpoint issues that are occurring on these Minnesota online company websites.
Company stakeholders are also carefully watching when highly publicized website crashes (such as Target’s website crash in 2011) impact Minnesota online retailers revenues and reputation with buyers. In 2012, according to Internet Retailer magazine now nearly all Minnesota online companies are monitoring their Web apps for performance. Monitoring helps these companies detect and diagnosis website errors during critical periods like the upcoming Black Thursday Eve, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Holiday shopping season.
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.