GameStop recognized that it needed to avoid outages by protecting website resources from an overload in traffic on Black Friday. The US-based company prepared for the holiday season by leveraging their CDN to selectively deny site access to certain regions while prioritizing key markets during the critical shopping period. Was that strategy a success?
In part three of the 2019 Holiday Edition of the #WebPerf Spotlight Series, Rigor CTO Billy Hoffman uses the data from monitoring the GameStop website to review the company’s holiday strategy intended to decrease the opportunity for overloaded servers – and resulting outages.
Site Outages Happen (to Everyone)
Site outages during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend are nothing new, which is why it’s not surprising that businesses are implementing intensive holiday readiness strategies to try to avoid them. Yet even the best-laid plans can still be foiled.
Four years ago, Rigor uncovered the website outages of major ecommerce players including Crate & Barrel, Macy’s, and Apple. Jump to one year ago: Walmart, Best Buy, and Office Depot all faced site downtime and loss of revenue. In fact, it was reported that Walmart’s outage affected approximately 4 million shoppers and cost the retailer $9 million.
In 2019, the big story was that Costco.com was down for almost 17 hours on Thanksgiving day, which led to an avalanche of frustrated shoppers who wanted to take advantage of special deals. This outage correlated with a revenue loss of millions of dollars. But Costco wasn’t alone – New York & Company, Forever 21, and Vince.com were some of the businesses who felt the sting of slow site performance and/or a complete site outage.
More Competition, More Mobile Shopping, More Frustration – Black Friday Takeaways
When a website or application suffers an outage or a significant slowdown, the business runs the risk of losing customers to its competitors. And one competitor stands out from the rest in the retail space: according to RetailDive, in 2018 “Amazon accounted for 39% of total sales among big box retailers over Cyber Week (Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday).” Businesses need to ensure that they don’t lose even more market share due to poor site performance.
Additionally, more shoppers are using their mobile devices to shop on Black Friday weekend than ever before. Yet according to Adobe, because the mobile checkout experience can be more frustrating than on desktop, “there is $12B in untapped potential for retailers this holiday season.” Thus, companies must ensure that their mobile performance is optimized for the user experience – particularly during peak-traffic events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
A Deep Dive into Black Friday 2019 Performance Strategies
Rigor’s CTO Billy Hoffman used the Rigor platform to track and monitor hundreds of websites before, during, and after the Black Friday shopping weekend. He then analyzed the data to identify key missteps and successful decisions that were made to handle site outages and performance slowdowns – or to avoid problems entirely.
What we uncovered goes deeper than simply identifying site outages. Even when outages occurred, our data shows that sites were hit with slow performance after the issue was addressed. And even sites that had no outages at all dealt with performance issues relating to traffic or CDN issues that prevented shoppers from viewing items or finalizing their purchase, indicating how critical it is to monitor not just pages but also site flows to ensure an optimal experience.
The Rigor platform uses synthetic technology to collect some of most granular monitoring data in the industry and then provides a UX/web performance analysis of the monitoring data to deliver actionable intelligence. Rigor then provides a prioritized list of recommendations, segmented by job role, to ensure that issues can be quickly triaged, addressed, and fixed.
Learn more about how Rigor can help your business get fast and stay fast. Reach out to speak to a product specialist and start your free trial today!