Think Mobile, Third-Party Providers When Prepping for Next Cyber Monday

This past Cyber Monday was the biggest online spending day in history. In the aftermath, two trends are clear: mobile shopping is a growing trend and retailers are doing a good job prepping for traffic spikes but third-party service providers are not.

Fri, November 30, 2012

CIO — The holiday shopping season is upon us. For online retailers, the most severe tests—Black Friday and Cyber Monday—have come and gone, though online traffic is expected to remain high. On the whole, the big retailers handled the tremendous traffic spikes with ease, says Stephen Pierzchala, Technology Strategist with application performance management specialist Compuware APM.

But Pierzchala notes that two trends are clear. First, while retailers fared well, their third-party providers struggled. Second, retailers that expect to succeed going forward better have a mobile strategy.

According to comScore, online spending on Cyber Monday reached $1.465 billion, making it the biggest online spending day in history.

"When compared with an already busy online weekend, Cyber Monday was again big this year," Pierzchala says. "This is reflected by an increase in traffic to sites monitored for the Compuware Ecommerce and Retail Real User Measurement Index on Cyber Monday, with traffic volumes that were up 75 percent over Thanksgiving Day and 30 percent over Black Friday."

Third-Party Service Providers Struggle with the Load

Pierzchala says sites were ready for the traffic this year. Despite record numbers of visitors to online retailers, no major retailer suffered a significant online outage. When they did have issues, the issues resulted from third-party providers—companies offering services ranging from analytics to advertising to customer service&8212;struggling with the load, rather than the host sites themselves.

"There have been no big meltdowns or explosions; it's actually been remarkably quiet, which points to high levels of preparedness," Pierzchala says. "The rubber has been hitting the road rather well. Most sites have gotten a pretty good grip out there. The only issues that we've seen out there so far have been the third-party services that a lot of these retailers have come to rely on. We're seeing everything from extremely long server response times to connection issues. And we're seeing at least one or two services where issues are occurring on multiple sites."

Mobile Traffic Up 250 Percent

Sites also saw a dramatic increase in mobile traffic this year. Compuware reported single-day traffic increases for mobile greater than 250 percent on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Mobile traffic volumes on Cyber Monday were slightly lower than those on Black Friday, but substantially higher than retailer sites experienced during the previous week.

"The really big thing that businesses need to bring to the table when they start thinking about planning for next year is the fact that on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, mobile traffic went up by 250 percent," Pierzchala says. "People are spending real money on mobile devices now and when you're looking at areas of growth and areas of potential benefit in the future, that's something you're going to have to really focus on."

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