New York & Company quickly caught and resolved a site outage during the 2019 kick-off to the holiday shopping season (Black Friday through Cyber Monday). The bigger issue was how long it took the ecommerce site to fully recover for shoppers eager to get deals on the brand’s clothing and accessories.

In part one of the 2019 Holiday Edition of the #WebPerf Spotlight Series, Rigor CTO Billy Hoffman uses data from the Rigor monitoring and optimization platform to uncover how this retail business mitigated the problem and makes recommendations for how to further improve their holiday readiness plan in the future.





Retail Sites and the 2019 Holiday Shopping Season

The kick-off to the holiday shopping season has crept earlier and earlier. It now kicks off on Thanksgiving, continues to Black Friday, and flows through Cyber Monday. And this extended weekend of doorbusters, deals, and discounts can typically be a time of anxiety for retail businesses who rely on their websites for revenue – either partially (for those with a brick-and-mortar presence) or completely (for online-only businesses).

Even with the most stringent holiday readiness plan in place, site errors can happen without warning – on the front end or the back end, because of a third-party vendor or a CDN – and every minute a site is down can cost a company tens of thousands of dollars. Beyond the revenue loss, site outages can lead to a reputation hit on social media, where angry customers are now likely to not only complain but also start a hashtag campaign against a company.

And if an ecommerce company hasn’t fully implemented a robust plan that looks beyond load testing, all bets are off as to what may happen during a peak-load event. A complete site outage is, of course, a significant issue, but so is a retail site that slows down significantly, impacting the user experience and being so unusable that it is, effectively, “down” for potential customers. Studies have shown that even a two-second delay in web page load time increases bounce rates by 103 percent.

Black Friday 2018 vs. 2019 – Trends to Watch

According to Akamai, mobile devices increased their share of Black Friday online shopping traffic volume to almost 60% in 2018, while desktop traffic dropped to around 40%. The numbers were similar in 2019, with smartphones generating 61% of ecommerce traffic on Black Friday.

Additionally, in 2018, big retail players like J Crew, Lululemon, and even Walmart suffered site outages that made headlines due to lost revenue and customer dissatisfaction. In 2019, one of the highest-profile site failures of the Black Friday period was The company reportedly lost over $11 million in revenue when their site went down for nearly 17 hours. Unsurprisingly, other retail and ecommerce sites also suffered outages and errors this year – and there are lessons to be learned from each of them.

A Closer Look at the Web Performance Failures and Successes of Black Friday 2019

Rigor’s CTO Billy Hoffman used the Rigor platform to run a data-focused investigation into the failures and successes of several ecommerce businesses during this cyber-shopping extravaganza. In an in-depth series of videos, he’ll take a close look at New York & Company, as well as Forever 21 and GameStop, as these ecommerce businesses navigated the influx of retail traffic and managed the performance issues that arose during the 2019 cyber-shopping weekend.

He’ll be focusing not only on the uptime and downtime of these retail sites but also how the businesses handled any outages. For example:

  • During an outage, did the site send customers to a user-friendly maintenance page or did it simply return an error message or blank screen?
  • Did the company allow worldwide traffic to access their site or did they carefully restrict by location to save resources?
  • Did the retail site remain usable throughout the shopping period without errors or were there minutes of lag added to critical checkout flow?

About Rigor

Remember – even if you catch and address a site outage quickly and minimize downtime, UX repercussions can linger on your live site. The Rigor platform uses synthetic technology to collect some of most granular monitoring data in the industry. Rigor then goes beyond the offerings of other monitoring platforms by providing a UX/web performance analysis of the monitoring data to deliver actionable intelligence and provide recommendations for how to fix the issues that it finds. This allows Rigor to help end-users not only find performance issues but develop peak-event plans and put solutions into action.

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!