We’ve had a chance to run the numbers and now have the final results of our 2011 Holiday eCommerce Availability Index. Over the course of six weeks, starting right before Thanksgiving and ending on New Years Day, we tracked the downtime of all major online retailer websites, checking every minute to see whether holiday shoppers would be able to make their purchases or would be forced to head to a competitor.
After analyzing the results, some of the losers had downtime of more than seven hours in one instance, while the winners had zero downtime throughout the entire holiday season, showing the differences of those who are prepared versus those who were not.
Overall, online retailers who experienced outages around the beginning of the holiday season tended to fix their issues. There were three times the number of downtime minutes during Thanksgiving weekend than in all of December, showing that once retailers saw their sites going down, they quickly reacted, possibly by adding more servers and enhanced infrastructure. Site performance was much more consistent in December as compared to November, with one spike on Dec 23, the last day to order with overnight shipment that would be delivered in time for Christmas.
Over 50 sites had no downtime at all and had very quick response times, including Apple, Staples, REI, and Kohls. On the flipside, over 70 sites monitored did have significant downtime, including 22 sites with outages lasting more than three hours. Some of these include OfficeDepot and GameFly.
Compared to the 2010 index, the sites that performed well continued to do so (including the big three Amazon, Target and Walmart). Some that had extensive trouble in 2010 made a big improvement (JCPenney and Express both had 100% uptime and The North Face decreased its downtime by approximately 90% .
Not all improved however, OfficeDepot had nearly eight hours of total downtime, an improvement from 2010 but still significant, while Levenger improved slightly but still had over four hours of total downtime.
Based on Forrester’s estimate of $60 billion in online sales during the holidays in the US alone, all this downtime certainly translated to lost revenue. If we make the rough assumption that these ecommerce sites represent 50% of the total, and sales are evenly spread throughout the holiday season (very rough approximations, I admit, but enough to get an order-of-magnitude estimate) then each minute of downtime corresponds to roughly $5000 in lost sales opportunity. Certainly some customers will wait for a site to come back and return, but regardless there is serious revenue at risk.
Aggregating all of the downtime across all 132 sites, we recorded nearly 9 days of downtime, which translates to nearly $65 million in lost sales opportunities!
Below are the full details of the measured downtime for the sites we monitored, along with their 2010 numbers. Interested in more details? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you the full dataset from the study.
How did your site do over the holidays? What worked (or didn’t) to prepare? Please share your ideas in the comments!
Update: We have been in contact with TigerDirect’s IT team and confirmed that one of the outages we recorded was actually due to their servers blocking our monitoring nodes rather than an actual website outage. The numbers below and on the holiday site have been updated to reflect this.
Click on any of the headers to sort the table.