A Nice Holiday Wrap-up for 2014

Welcome back to our latest update on the internet’s top retailers. If you are new to our blog, we have been publishing our analysis of passing and failing uptime for ecommerce webpages. Last time, we found over the course of the year, the 26% internet’s top 132 retailer’s suffered from less than 99.9% uptime. Only 19 websites had less than 99.9% uptime this holiday season. Overall, this is a positive sign for retailers across the country and their internet infrastructure. This comes on the heels of our earlier report of fewer retailers having website downtime issues over the 2013 year. Of the 132 retailers we were tracking this season on our holiday page, only 14% had substantial downtime. This is far better than the 35% downtime we have seen this year. With a total of 618 outages and 102 hours of downtime across those 134 retailers, this means performance has improved a great deal compared to 1006 outages and 155 hours of downtime in 2012. This upbeat news, we speculate, can be attributed to a few changes to internet retailer’s webpage infrastructure:

  1. For retailer’s who maintain their own webservers and webservices, the cost of getting better web server hardware and software has fallen from highs earlier in the decade making it more feasible to do more with less. The growth of virtual servers has also expanded retailer’s capabilities of scaling their options up as well.
  2. For retailer’s who have put their sites in the hands of cloud providers, there are now more and more cloud providers giving a myriad assortment of possibilities for retailers to shop around with. This also has the affect of making pricing more competitive for brick and mortar retailer’s who want to have a smaller relationship with their web presence. These expanded options make it simple for retailer’s to shop around for upgrades to their online infrastructure.
  3. More passively, the quality of internet resources has improved greatly since the beginning of this decade making it easier for retailers to create, edit, and control their online web presence.

Despite this, the 19 retailers with less than 99.9% uptime were all retailers with persistent problems that put them on under performing holiday season lists for either 2011 or 2012. The list includes: CDW, J&R, Victoria’s Secret, Shutterfly, Office Depot, Pixmania, Gamefly, Cabelas, Sears, Backcountry, Blockbuster, Dell, Harry and David, Lululemon, Guess, Tiger Direct, Sony, Urban Outfitters, and Banana Republic. For these retailers, there performance was below standard but there is a silver lining in that improvements are simple and easy to start as a new years resolution. Good early steps include beefing up current online infrastructure with additional servers or virtual machines, adding network service monitoring, possibly agent side monitoring, and finally, developing a team system for dealing with outages.