Blog Feed Post

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Performance Report 2017

Black Friday Weekend has come to a close, which means the dust has settled, deals were scored, and discounts redeemed. Every year, retailers try to lure more customers with enticing sales tactics; this year, retailers spread the holiday cheer with major deals and discounts that started before Thanksgiving. Ecommerce companies made big money from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday as consumers did not hesitate to take advantage of the huge savings offered all week.

A rather well-organized and incident-free Black Friday and Cyber Monday managed to set even higher records in terms of sales and revenue. Adobe reported a growth of 16.9% in online sales on Black Friday compared to last year. Sales picked up even before the Black Friday weekend with retailers offering deals in advance; there was an 18.3% increase in sales on Thanksgiving Day.

Highlight – Positive Performance

Outages, degraded performance, and downtime due to maintenance were commonplace during the holiday sale season but retailers have not taken the lessons from previous years lightly. This time around, companies were better prepared to deal with the influx of traffic and delivering a better digital experience.

Customers were offered more options to avail deals and discounts. Retailers did not restrict the sale to online shoppers alone; for example, major businesses like Target allowed users to place orders online way ahead of the big weekend with an option to pick up the order in-store. This made it easier to handle the inevitable surge in orders and spread out the traffic without risking a server overload.

Lowlight – Traffic Jams

It wasn’t smooth sailing for all retailers; there were a few major retailers who were ill-equipped to handle the traffic and load.

H&M experienced intermittent outages on Thanksgiving Day that continued into the Black Friday weekend. The red data points in the graph below indicate the outages.

http://blog.catchpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/hm1-300x138.jpg 300w, http://blog.catchpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/hm1-768x352.jpg 768w" sizes="(max-width: 977px) 100vw, 977px" />

The website was experiencing server issues; the page displayed a Black Friday splash page during the outage.

http://blog.catchpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/HM-300x225.jpg 300w, http://blog.catchpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/HM-768x576.jpg 768w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" />

Lowe’s experienced outages on Black Friday between 9am-6pm ET and another on Cyber Monday between 8:30pm-10pm ET. Both were partial outages; the site was accessible from some locations while it was accessible without issues from other locations.

http://blog.catchpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/lowes-300x138.jpg 300w, http://blog.catchpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/lowes-768x354.jpg 768w" sizes="(max-width: 962px) 100vw, 962px" />

The page displayed a splash screen to those users who were unable to access the website.

http://blog.catchpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/down-300x225.jpg 300w, http://blog.catchpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/down-768x576.jpg 768w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" />

The outages were mainly a result of server overload. The sites were not able to handle the spike in users resulting in 503 errors.

Highlight – Mobile Performance

Smartphones are now used for everything, from ordering food, counting calories to booking hotels and flights. Retailers understand tech-savvy online shoppers and the importance of delivering fast and seamless user experience irrespective of the device used. Mobile websites are expected to be light and easy to navigate and almost all the big players in the ecommerce industry have taken heed. This has pushed up sales from mobile devices; according to Retail Dive, “Mobile accounted for 61% of all website traffic on Thanksgiving Day.”

Mobile sites have improved in performance this year. The mobile version of Internet Retailers top 50 sites managed to keep a page size of 3MB or less. The sites use fewer elements – hosts, third-party tags, images etc., making it faster which has a direct impact on the user experience and conversion rates.

Lowlight – Third-Party Tags

Most websites are inundated with third-party tags that are used to embed tracking pixels, display ads and even monitor site performance and conversion rates. Third-party tags are an additional overhead and add to the page load time. It can be a major blind spot for websites; a website’s performance can be degraded if any of the third-party tags don’t work or have issues connecting to the server.

An example of this is the slowdown that Gap faced early on Thanksgiving Day. One of the third-party hosts “tr.snapchat.com” had higher than usual response time that drastically slowed down the website.

http://blog.catchpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/gap3-300x216.png 300w, http://blog.catchpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/gap3-768x553.png 768w, http://blog.catchpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/gap3-1024x737.png 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 1240px) 100vw, 1240px" />

A single third-party host pushed the webpage load time as high as 27 secs. It is important for websites to limit the number of third-party tags used on the page and to monitor the performance of these tags to ensure there is minimal impact to user experience in case of a major issue.

Overall Performance

This year, the ecommerce holiday season started without any major glitches. When compared to the first week of November, there was a minimal increase (about 2%) in page load times for the top 50 IR websites – both desktop and mobile sites loaded within 4 secs. Amazon, Apple, and Walgreens were some of the best performing websites.

http://blog.catchpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/topedited1-300x76.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 595px) 100vw, 595px" />

From Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, most websites managed to do well mainly because the sales/deals were made available days and even weeks ahead. This strategy helped prominent retailers manage the incoming orders better while maintaining a positive digital experience.

The major challenge that the ecommerce industry faces is the unrestrained use of third-party tags and integrations. Retailers should not ignore the fact that managing third-party tag performance is an essential part of website optimization.

Read about optimization techniques that can help improve your website performance in our latest ebook, The 5 Ways Digital Experience Monitoring Can Save Your Online Retail Business.

The post Black Friday & Cyber Monday Performance Report 2017 appeared first on Catchpoint's Blog - Web Performance Monitoring.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Mehdi Daoudi

Catchpoint radically transforms the way businesses manage, monitor, and test the performance of online applications. Truly understand and improve user experience with clear visibility into complex, distributed online systems.

Founded in 2008 by four DoubleClick / Google executives with a passion for speed, reliability and overall better online experiences, Catchpoint has now become the most innovative provider of web performance testing and monitoring solutions. We are a team with expertise in designing, building, operating, scaling and monitoring highly transactional Internet services used by thousands of companies and impacting the experience of millions of users. Catchpoint is funded by top-tier venture capital firm, Battery Ventures, which has invested in category leaders such as Akamai, Omniture (Adobe Systems), Optimizely, Tealium, BazaarVoice, Marketo and many more.

Latest Stories
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Vulnerability management is vital for large companies that need to secure containers across thousands of hosts, but many struggle to understand how exposed they are when they discover a new high security vulnerability. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, John Morello, CTO of Twistlock, addressed this pressing concern by introducing the concept of the “Vulnerability Risk Tree API,” which brings all the data together in a simple REST endpoint, allowing companies to easily grasp the severity of the ...
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but we do a lot more than just data management on-prem with the data centers of our customers. We're also big in the hybrid cloud," explained Wes Talbert, Principal Architect at NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...