Each year, Black Friday draws an increasingly sharp contrast between the die-hard shopper happy to camp for days outside a local brick-and-mortar store and the shrinking patience of web surfing and increasingly mobile surfing consumers, who flip from one store to another with the click or swipe of a button. While retailers nationwide have declared this past shopping weekend a tremendous success, a closer look at many companies’ online performance tells a very different story.
This year’s Cyber Monday raked in an estimated $1.25 billion in sales – officially earning 11/28/11 the record for the heaviest day of online commerce in history (Wall Street Journal). Unfortunately, many retailers were ill-equipped with the necessary infrastructure to handle this incredible spike in online traffic. Catchpoint, a company that analyzed the sites of the top 55 internet retailers, discovered that Brookstone’s site was down for nearly 7 hours, PC Mall for over 2 hours and even Toys ‘R’ Us for about 42 minutes on Cyber Monday.
This year also saw a 371% increase in the number of customers shopping on mobile devices, where sites are expected to be “as fast or faster” than other sites, according to Leah Manz of Akamai (a Massachusetts-based internet content delivery network). In today’s economy, retailers cannot afford downtime in mobile/web-based sites – these frustrated customers will likely be driven to the sites of competitors. Mobile/web-acceleration companies such as CDNetworks, Mirror Image Internet, HighWinds and Cotendo (rumored to be an acquisition target for Akamai) offer solutions for these companies that will enable them to close the performance gaps that many of their mobile customers experienced last week. Most importantly, these solutions will help with customer satisfaction.
We will continue to track the mobile acceleration space as we see it becoming increasingly important as mission-critical and enterprise-grade mobile applications continue to evolve/emerge.