Is Your Site Ready for the Holiday Rush? - InformationWeek

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11/21/2007
07:08 AM
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Is Your Site Ready for the Holiday Rush?

The Christmas season officially begins Friday, traditionally being the busiest day of the year for retailers. So as customers get ready to open up their wallets, the question becomes: Will your Web site withstand the dramatic surge in traffic?

The Christmas season officially begins Friday, traditionally being the busiest day of the year for retailers. So as customers get ready to open up their wallets, the question becomes: Will your Web site withstand the dramatic surge in traffic?Even though ecommerce technology has moved from a novelty act to a corporate mainstay, retailers still have to problems in the holiday season. Last year, Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, and BestBuy.com all experienced system outages during the holiday season. So, the chances are good if a small or a medium business runs a successful promotion, it too may encounter an unforeseen problem.

The challenges with meeting the higher than normal demand start with a companys system and network infrastructure. Retailers have to understand that the amount of bandwidth and processing power required can skyrocket so page delivery slows. If it drops too much, customers click and go to a competitors site.

Also new types of content are taxing the underlying infrastructure. Increasingly, Web sites now feature video content when displaying new products. This approach is now possible because many consumers now have the broadband connections needed to support these applications. Also, the underlying software (multimedia players, video editing software) required has become more commonplace. While this option helps the retailer engage with the customer, it consumes more bandwidth and requires more processing power than other programs.

Avoiding such problems, companies need to put comprehensive testing functions in place. Tools to help with the process are available from large vendors, such as Compuwares Optimal, IBMs Rational Performance Tester, and Microsoft Visual Studio Team as well as small specialized suppliers: Keynotes Keynote Web Performance, Neotyss NeoLoad, Novosofts Testing Master and Parasofts WebKing. So as the holiday season approaches, small and medium businesses need to know not only how well their promotions are doing but also how well, or not so well, their Web site can handle the increased traffic. Merry Christmas.

How much of a bump does your Web site receive in the holiday season? How confident are you about its ability to serve those customers? What are you most concerned about?

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