Naughty or nice? This year’s Cyber Monday top (and bottom) performers

Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was saying Cyber Monday is not typically the busiest online shopping day of the year? Well, I stand corrected!

Coremetrics is reporting that compared to Black Friday, online sales on Cyber Monday were up 31.1 percent, making it the biggest shopping day of 2010 thus far. What’s more, yesterday’s sales exceeded those recorded on Cyber Monday 2009 by nearly 20 percent!

While these numbers indicate a positive start for sales this holiday season, how did retailers fare in terms of website performance? What kind of user experience did they deliver to shoppers on Cyber Monday?

All in all, most e-tailers performed well. There were a few blips here and there, but most had greater than 98 percent availability throughout the day. (Remember, we monitored the home page, search, add-to-cart, and proceed-to-checkout functions of their sites.)

Sites with perfect availability on Cyber Monday include: Gap, Costco, Lowe’s, Zappos, Target, Kmart, Old Navy, Newegg, Apple, Sears, QVC, and Banana Republic. (No coal in their stockings this Christmas!)

Not all the sites made the “nice list,” though. Here are a few of the problems we recorded:

  • As we reported yesterday, JCPenney delivered extremely slow load page times (upwards of 90 seconds) yesterday beginning at 8:05 a.m. As a result, the transaction we were monitoring was successfully completed only 10.94 percent of the time. A spokeswoman for JCPenney told The Wall Street Journal this morning the slowdown could be attributed to site traffic, which increased 500 percent compared to last year’s Black Friday levels.
  • Victoria’s Secret was completely unavailable early yesterday morning from 5:25 a.m. to 6:05 a.m. Yesterday evening, beginning at 6 p.m. and carrying on through midnight, the site again experienced slowdowns and unavailability. During these hours the site was available only 55.56 percent of the time.
  • DSW experienced intermittent availability (43.14 percent) between 3:30 p.m. and midnight.
  • American Eagle’s website was completely unavailable between 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
  • Between 9 p.m. and 11:10 p.m., Lands’ End produced only 8 percent availability.

While experiencing an outage or painfully slow response times is not ideal for retailers, particularly during this busy time of year, many seemed prepared to handle such issues. Several retailers had unique error messages in place, offering apologies, extended discounts, and contact information. We shared a few with you yesterday, but here are a couple of the more informative ones we captured. It never hurts to prepare for the worst.

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