Online sales on Cyber Monday reached a record $1.251 billion, up 22 percent from the same day last year, according to comScore. Other estimates are more generous, putting the increase at 33 percent.
Regardless of the specific number, it was a successful weekend for e-commerce, in terms of sales, traffic and website performance.
Typically, retail websites are prone to slowdowns and outages on Thanksgiving Night, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as millions of shoppers flood the web to scoop up the season's hottest deals.
And millions of shoppers there were. The peak traffic rate of the long holiday weekend, as calculated by Akamai, was over 1.9 million page views per minute on Thanksgiving Day between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. EST. Traffic on Cyber Monday was up as well, trending 43 percent above 2010 levels.
Despite this, most retail websites performed well for shoppers. On Cyber Monday, 39 sites delivered 100 percent availability, and 32 sites loaded more quickly than the industry's weekend average of 4.39 seconds. One retailer, Systemax, even delivered response times under one second.
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Click for full size image
The user experience wasn't as smooth on all retail websites, however. Here are some of the problems we identified:
- On Cyber Monday, Newegg.com had trouble with site availability between 12:44 p.m. and 1:47 p.m. EST. During this period, the retailer delivered page timeouts or site unavailability messages to many shoppers. Overall availability for the day dropped to 88.79 percent as a result.
- Shoppers visiting Nordstrom.com often had to wait a quarter of a minute for the homepage to load, due to third party click-thru software included on the page. Average response time for Cyber Monday was 12.62 seconds. Wait time over the weekend as a whole was only slightly better, 12.08 seconds.
- Target.com feature a homepage that is over four screens long with 22 large images. Though making for a visually appealing web shopping experience, this design had a detrimental effect on website speed. Average response time on the site was 13.15 seconds on Monday and 12.84 seconds over the long weekend.
As a whole, the top online retailers delivered an average response time of 4.34 seconds and average availability of 99.72 percent between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, giving the majority of shoppers a positive user experience. It was a successful start to the holiday shopping season, and this performance is a testament to the work that retailers put in to prepare their sites for the increased traffic.