On Black Friday Leading Retail Web Sites Slow Way Down

Posted by at 12:51 pm on November 30, 2009

Keynote Systems today announced the top level results of its annual study tracking the speed and reliability of the nation’s most popular retail Web sites beginning Black Friday and continuing throughout the holiday shopping season. Online holiday shoppers experienced a mixed bag from a performance perspective on Black Friday, as almost all of the sites on Keynote’s online retail shopping index showed slowdowns on this very busy online shopping day. Overall, most of them weathered the storm very well, but there were a few sites (as there seems to be every year) that crumbled under the pressure. This continues to surprise Keynote during this extremely critical consumer shopping period and in the current economy in which every dollar counts.

“Overall the quality of the sites tracked on Black Friday improved this year over last, with fewer showing major outages and issues impacting a large number of users,” said Ben Rushlo, director of competitive Research at Keynote. “The best performing sites overall were Wal-Mart, Sears and Barnes & Noble. Each of these sites did very well during the Black Friday period (6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. EST). Overall, Wal-Mart was the most stable site, showing not a single error (100% availability for the day) and very little slowdown. Wal-Mart has struggled in the past with Black Friday traffic, but this year they got it right, offering their customers a consistently fast and reliable experience. Wal-Mart and the other good quality sites prove that with proper planning, load testing and focus it is possible to offer customers a pleasant online experience even when customer volume is the highest.”

Of the pure online sites (sites that do not have physical stores), Newegg was very good as was Overstock.com. Other pure online sites struggled. Interestingly, they seemed to have more issues later in the afternoon, likely when shoppers shifted their focus from “brick and mortar” to these -╦ťonline only’ sites.

Several sites had issues very early in the morning (5:00 a.m. EST), likely as shoppers were looking for “door buster” deals. Others struggled more in the afternoon hours as the continued pressure on the site began to build and cause problems.

Rushlo continued, “This year, there were a few sites that had major issues. Keynote noted more issues in the apparel vertical than in other verticals. This is consistent with our findings in years prior. The best site on Keynote’s apparel index was Victoria’s Secret, as it did not report a single error and virtually no slowdown during the critical Black Friday shopping period.”

Keynote’s reporting is comprised of leading online shopping sites across apparel, electronics, and books and music Web sites and establishes a standard for retailers to measure acceptable performance against. The Keynote Retail Transaction Performance Index benchmarks the performance for an online shopping transaction for each leading retail site, including product search, shopping cart and checkout process performance.

Further information on the Keynote Retail Performance Indices is available online at: http://www.keynote.com/keynote_competitive_research/performance_indices/retail/retail_index.html

Sites Included on Keynote’s Retail Web Transaction Performance Index–

Electronics sites on Keynote’s retail index include: Amazon, Apple Store, Best Buy, CDW, Dell, HP, Newegg, Office Depot, Office Max, Overstock, Sony Style, Staples, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart.

Apparel sites on Keynote’s retail index include: Abercrombie & Fitch, Eddie Bauer, Foot Locker, J Crew, JC Penney, Kohls, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sears, Victoria’s Secret, Zappos.

Books and music sites on Keynote’s retail index include: Abe Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Blockbuster,

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