Ecommerce matures

Well, the shopping madness is over for another year, and we can all relax and enjoy our family and friends and the gifts they gave us today. The lineups at retail outlets moved a little faster this year, as the banks seem to have increased the computer capacity necessary to process direct payment transactions during the busy Christmas shopping season.

Almost everyone’s at their busiest at Christmas, which raises an interesting question: how do the increasing popular web retail operations fare when overloaded with multiple orders, all at the same time? According to a new survey, ecommerce providers are well equipped to handle the annual onslaught of orders and avoid system crashes and foul-ups.

Internet survey company Keynote Systems says that leading online shopping web sites are servicing holiday shoppers with performance and availability rates that are better than the industry-average business web site. On December 17, for example, delivered its home page in an average of 4.9 seconds with an availability rate of 99.4 percent, compared to an industry average of 9.2 seconds and 97.5 percent. The study was based on over 800,000 measurements taken at major retailebsites.

As a Keynote executive noted, performance and availability are crucial factors in retaining and satisfying online customers. Most of us have had the unpleasant experience of walking out of an understaffed or overcrowded store, and we are much more likely to give up on a retail website that keeps us waiting for even more than several seconds. The e-consumer is probably more demanding in terms of time than any other market segment, and it is good to see that retail websites have recognized this. When convenience is your main selling point, a wait of a few seconds can turn into a sales nightmare.