Black Friday to Cyber Monday: the retailers’ extended Superbowl weekend and the time during which up to 40% of yearly revenue can be accrued. The importance of these four days has skyrocketed in recent years as the market has experienced a major migration to online over in-store purchases. In order to drive higher sales volume and reach new markets retailers’ focus has been forced to shift to e-commerce and mobile/app shopping experiences. While competition grows among retailers there is an absolute need to deliver application services without interruption. Failure to assure quality of service for web applications will lead to huge losses in sales and damaged brand reputation. Millennials, who not surprisingly are at the forefront of this movement, will not wait and will ultimately leave retailers in the dust, leaving shopping carts full and retailers' pockets empty.
The Main Event: Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday is quickly becoming the focus for holiday shoppers with many retailers beginning to turn away from the hectic Black Friday shopping day. Retailers such as REI decided to completely close their doors this Black Friday to save employees the hassle and focus on their Cyber Monday efforts instead. Even travel giants like Carnival Cruise and Virgin Atlantic took their Black Friday efforts online, further strengthening the appeal of online buying. The modern shopper, it would appear, would much rather browse the racks from the comfort of their own homes, rather than camp out all night outside a Best Buy to snag a deal.
So, what did this year’s Cyber Monday have in store for us?
Well, a record $3 billion+ in total sales during a single day is exactly what it had in store. This year’s Cyber Monday "holiday" saw more than a 15% increase in sales over the last year’s high. Some retailers such as Target cited that on-site traffic was twice the rate of their previous busiest day ever. Toys and electronics were flying off the virtual shelves at scary-fast rates, leading to an average of about 14 out of every 100 products being listed "out-of-stock." Mobile continued to rise as the go-to method for browsing, with IBM citing that nearly half of all web traffic came from smartphones/tablets and accounting for a record $799 million in online spend.
"Please be patient, we will have our site back up ASAP"
Shoppers have clearly moved online and have marked Cyber Monday as their biggest calendar shopping day, planning to check off their holiday list early and avoid traveling to malls. These messages can be devastating to those choosing this path for shopping and for a retailer’s brand perception. Retailers have no choice but to give the somewhat insincere "sorry for the inconvenience, we will be back up shortly” while users go into a shopping panic, or worse – leave their site for a competitor.
3 Huge Retailers/Services Faced Outages
You've probably already heard about big-box retailer Target's Cyber Monday blues. Though reports state that their site never fully-crashed, it did experience significant traffic congestion that led to them having to create a virtual waiting line with the message "Please hold tight" displayed. Those patient enough to sit tight may have had the chance to buy, but many shoppers left to look elsewhere for other door-buster deals.
2) Neiman Marcus
Another big name in retail experienced trouble starting on Black Friday, with their entire site displaying error messages leaving potential customers in the dark. Eventually they recovered their website and were back up and running by Saturday. "Black Saturday" just doesn’t have the same ring. ChannelAdvisor cites that websites can miss out on 8% of the day’s sales every hour they're down, and Neiman Marcus was down for 12 hours…ouch.
We can't leave out the payment giant, PayPal, which temporarily went down on Cyber Monday and caused big headaches for businesses such as Ebay. It was reported that nearly 70% of users trying to use PayPal on Sunday could not complete purchases due to this massive outage, and response times slowed up to 22 seconds. To put it in perspective, 40% of shoppers abandon a site/service after just two seconds of load time.
Who Did it Right?
Wayfair.com Reaches Record Breaking Sales
Some retailers like Boston-based e-commerce home furnishing company Wayfair, also a VMTurbo customer, had nothing but smooth sailing with zero glitches, downtime or error messages. With their successful holiday weekend, Wayfair saw record-breaking sales that led to a 14% stock increase. Wayfair CEO and co-founder Niraj Shah made a statement this week on how there has been an industry-wide shift to e-commerce during the peak retail season, making Cyber Monday bigger than Black Friday. Assuring website application performance and end-user QoS has paid off well for the home furnishing company, who was able to increase sales by 315% YoY this holiday.
Assure Quality of Service During Peak Times
As discussed, two seconds is about all you have to hold shoppers on your site. That’s seven seconds less than a goldfish’s attention span…If customers aren’t getting the level of services they want from a site, they will make a quick decision to leave, ultimately impacting both revenue and brand reputation.