Top-performing websites of 2010 holiday season

After more than a month of monitoring the availability and response times of your favorite online retailers, we're ready to release our annual E-Commerce Holiday Web Performance Index. The overall top performer was Williams-Sonoma, which delivered near-impeccable availability of 99.98 percent and an average response time of 11.58 seconds* to shoppers throughout the season. Sam's Club and QVC tied for second place with 99.95 percent availability and a 13.46-second average response time.

Not all retailers performed as well, however. For example, we were only able to complete a successful transaction on Overstock.com 84.15 percent of the time. And even then, it took on average more than 46 seconds.

What about JCPenney? How did they rank after experiencing major delays on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the following few days?

After delivering response times exceeding 90 seconds at the start of the holiday shopping season, JCPenney recovered well. The retailer's average response time for the holiday season was recorded at 15.73 seconds, five seconds faster than the industry average 20.83 seconds recorded during the same period.

While the retailers we monitored throughout the holidays did experience intermittent outages, and though many struggled with response times, there weren't any major outages of note. This likely means that retailers have heeded our advice, and are testing the capabilities of their sites well before the wreaths are hung and the familiar opening bars of Christmas carols are pumped over the airwaves.

*Don't forget that response times take into account multiple steps, including the time it would take you to visit the retailer's home page, execute a product search, add the product to the shopping cart, and proceed to checkout.


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