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Print 25 comment(s) - last by ultimatebob.. on Dec 1 at 11:59 AM

Just like retail stores during Black Friday, retailer web sites also had lots of visitors -- too many for some

Several major retailers reportedly had issues with high amounts of web traffic on their web sites during Black Friday.  Wal-Mart's web site was difficult to access in the morning, leaving users with blank pages, delays and/or other problems.  In the early afternoon, the web site just told users to come back at a later time.  comScore Media Metrix says Walmart.com is the 21st most popular web site in the U.S., with almost 23 million unique visitors going to the site in September. 

The possibility of purchasing one of 1,000 Microsoft Xbox 360 Core consoles  for $100 caused Amazon.com to slow down around 11AM PST yesterday.  The small amount of Xbox 360 Core consoles sold out 29 seconds after the deal went live.  Amazon's web site appeared to be back to normal within 15 minutes of the Xbox 360 deal ending.   The additional traffic brought some affiliate Amazon sites to a crawl, such as Target.com.

Disney's shopping site was relatively okay, but still had congestion several clicks into the site, according to a spokesman for DisneyShopping.com.  Even non-gift oriented sites experienced some traffic pains, as peripheral shopping engines like Shopping.com and PriceGrabber.com posted all time traffic records, and annoying load times.

A VISA spokesperson later confirmed that e-commerce sales were significantly off expectations, claiming good weather prompted customers to turn off the computer and drive to the stores instead.

Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving, has often times been one of the busiest U.S. shopping days of the year.  As more retailers begin offering better deals on their web sites, they are getting better at dealing with the increased traffic.  However, poor web experiences has been an alarming trend for users attempting to stay out of the lines at the brick and mortar stores.

comScore reported eBay tallied in at over 7.5M IP addresses just on Friday alone, with high expectations for "Cyber Monday" as well.  Cyber Monday is the term recently coined to describe the Monday immediately following Black Friday, and has also recently been a strong shopping session.


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...
By cciesquare on 11/26/2006 3:36:14 AM , Rating: 2
its like a legit denial of service. lol

I knew that Amazon would come to a halt because of experiences from World of Warcraft. I clicked refresh at 10:55AM, when it finally loaded i got "Sold out" lol, i wasnt expecting to get one realisticly but all i can think of was "i hope Amazon loses a lot of business because of this" :p

I am just suprised online retailers arent prepared. I mean stores hire more people during the holiday seasons, isnt there a way to do some optimization or what not to ease traffic?




RE: ...
By Furen on 11/26/2006 3:44:29 AM , Rating: 2
Like what? Buy more servers for a day? There isn't much that can be done since traffic spikes of this magnitude are not wont to happen often but are significantly more intense than anything a brick and mortar store will experience (you can only fit so many people into a Walmart before people just stop trying to get in).


RE: ...
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 11/26/2006 5:58:57 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Like what? Buy more servers for a day?


Exactly. In retail you hire temp employees for the holiday season. There are already virtual versions of this:

http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&sa=X&oi...



RE: ...
By shilala on 11/26/2006 8:08:03 AM , Rating: 2
Does not Microsoft use Akamai? I remember an Akamai downloader when they distributed one of the Pre-Vista packages.
Until now I hadn't thought anything of it. Maybe they were using rent-a-servers to alleviate the influx/overload?


RE: ...
By Lazarus Dark on 11/26/2006 8:13:20 AM , Rating: 2
the wikipedia for akamai lists microsoft as a customer.


RE: ...
By Slaimus on 11/29/2006 10:59:42 AM , Rating: 2
Akamai is a web caching service. If the data is dynamic, like whether you are the first 1000 or not, cannot be cached. All Akamai can do is offload requests to images and stylesheets.


RE: ...
By Tyler 86 on 11/30/2006 9:53:38 PM , Rating: 2
If the data is dynamic, represent and display it to the browser with a static client-side executing script, cookies, and very small, even compressed, dynamic server items... let Akamai cache the static data... but they haven't hired me, so... 'eff 'em ...


RE: ...
By Furen on 11/27/2006 2:14:31 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, but just how much capacity is needed to deal with this kind of thing? Is it even worth the cost? The problem online is not a higher seasonal utilization but rather insane instantaneous spikes of utilization VERY sporadically. I doubt Amazon would have been able to "rent" Akamai's service for the 30 minutes it needed the help for, and certainly not at in a cost-effective manner. Walmart's 10-hour problem is a different matter, though.


RE: ...
By ToeCutter on 11/27/2006 10:58:12 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Yes, but just how much capacity is needed to deal with this kind of thing? Is it even worth the cost?


Considering that most retailers hope to close 40% of their annual revenue in the weeks between Black Friday to Dec 20, preparing for the increased traffic is probably worth some extra effort.


RE: ...
By ultimatebob on 12/1/2006 11:59:10 AM , Rating: 2
A company as big as Amazon.com should be able to afford some "Capacity On Demand" servers that automatically activate extra processors and memory held in reserve to handle peak loads. IBM builds these, and I'd be suprised if other server manufacturers didn't offer it as well.


RE: ...
By umerok on 11/27/2006 12:06:45 PM , Rating: 2
I clicked refresh at 10:59. The page loaded for me at exactly 11:17. The XBOX, the bike, and the Barbie were all sold out by that time. I understand though, I would have bought the Barbie out of frustration too.


RE: ...
By xphile on 11/29/2006 4:03:24 AM , Rating: 2
Cant possibly BEGIN to imagine how frustrated you were to miss on the Barbie as well (Oh well, no 360, nevermind, I guess it's the Barbie then... well CRAP!!) LOL


A better way
By Cullinaire on 11/26/2006 4:11:45 PM , Rating: 3
Amazon should have had all contenders draw virtual straws instead of making them deal with this overload. That way even if they didn't get the deal they would at least feel that they had a fair shake at it. Agonizing at the loading bar that just wouldn't go past half for 5 minutes? Is that supposed to engage the customer to keep shopping Amazon happily after the fiasco is over? (supposedly, it worked based on the other "deals" that sold out)

Even better, they could have shown a flash animation of the virtual people crowding into the virtual storefront to get at what is essentially a virtual deal. Of course, virtual trampling would provide the engaging eye candy that would make the experience virtually worthwhile.

Now, if they could translate this into a full fledged MMO-type game, that would be pure gold. Pure virtual gold.




RE: A better way
By defiantsf on 11/27/2006 1:21:30 PM , Rating: 2
My thoughts are exactly the same.

1. It is a self-inflicted problem.
2. Should have draw virtual straws before last Thursday!

If their servers can't handle the extra load, what's the point of a hot-but-extremely limited sale that causes problems for ALL customers. 100 Xbox 360 is insignificant revenue. Little to no profit. And people who "came in" to shop can leave with a simple mouse click, so the usual B&M special sales draw reasoning doesn't apply. MORE IMPORTANTLY, non-Xbox shoppers got shafted too. Rly smart Amazon!

Pissed off potential customers are more likely to shop elsewhere afterwards.


RE: A better way
By xphile on 11/29/2006 4:19:46 AM , Rating: 2
"Virtually worthwhile" that was a true classic! I enjoyed that one - so much so I could virtually see myself upmodding your post. Ah the differences between a the virtual world and reality... :-)

There simply is no feedback of numbers when buying online - you cant drive up see the queues and say, no this aint for me today...

Instead everyone drives up at the same time, bangs into each other and all try to all park in the same carpark. There are 48 doors, one of them is open, well it's the service entrance and the catflap is unlocked, but a few very very thin people happen to luck out on finding it and are able to squeeze through and claim the riches. Ah yes this is reality... virtually.


lol
By yacoub on 11/26/2006 9:00:54 AM , Rating: 3
"caused Amazon to slow down". Gee that's a gentle way to put it. "Completely overloaded their webservers" would be a more accurate description. From ~1:58PM (eastern time) til at least 2:10PM no one could get any Amazon.com pages to load at all, let alone slowly. You should have seen how pissed most folks were. =\




RE: lol
By edge929 on 11/27/2006 9:01:04 AM , Rating: 2
Add me to that "pissed-off" list. I'm sure by now you've seen the Amazon message boards about this. Just another consumer who will never buy from Amazon again right here.


Amazon
By Gigahertz19 on 11/26/2006 1:18:36 AM , Rating: 2
I tried getting a X-Box 360 core from Amazon on Thursday, I couldn't even load the webpage 8 minutes before the deal went live. I wonder just how many people tried getting one when a big e-tailer like Amazon can't even support the traffic?

I went to Circuit City on Black Friday to see what they had and was about to buy a 22" LCD Samsung SyncMaster 225BW for $280 but at 1pm the system reset and the sale prices were gone so it went up to $480...I was so pissed, if I knew they were timed sales I would of gone in and bought it right away. On Pricegrabber the cheapest they go for is $370....I could of bought all 12 of them they had there and then sold them on E-bay excluding one I would of kept for myself....arghhhh




RE: Amazon
By Mazor on 11/26/2006 2:25:10 AM , Rating: 2
That monitor is still available at that price through the weekend, at the store and online. Went to CC to get the rebates. Bought the monitor 30 days ago, no time to spare for their price matching!
Good luck.


no amazon xbox360 for me either
By johnsonx on 11/27/2006 4:11:56 AM , Rating: 2
I took a shot at getting an XBOX360 on Thanksgiving. At 10:53 I was able to load amazon.com, but it was very slow. It took three minutes to bring up the page with the actual XBOX360 deal on it, so it was 10:56, too early to order. I hit refresh, and it came up again at 10:58, still no 'get the deal' button. I hit refresh again, and it finally loaded after 12 minutes, 11:10am PST, all sold out.

Oh well.




RE: no amazon xbox360 for me either
By ted61 on 11/27/2006 10:20:14 AM , Rating: 2
I did not get one either but I sure did have fun waiting for the lottery pick to draw a number.

I waited `7 minutes for the page to refresh before it timed out. The whole time I was cheering the servers on.


no problems here
By Lazarus Dark on 11/26/2006 8:12:07 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sure many people had different experiences depending on what they were looking for. I had no problems with any sites I visited early thursday morning or early friday morning. But then again I had only one mission this year: westinghouse 37" 1080p lcd. I was disappointed last week when black friday advertisement leak sites showed that none of the big name brick and mortars would have it on sale this year. I knew a guy who got one for like a grand last blackfri at bb. So I set my sites on the online stores like newegg and crutchfield, hoping for a sale between thurday and cyber monday. Finally at 6am sunday success! ordered it from j&r for 999! this was not advertised anywhere as far as I could tell, so it was luck through diligent searching.

So yeah maybe the internet didn't provide the instant gratification some wanted but I think a lot of people should have come away happy. I think disaster is a rather strong word here, and I wonder if 'many' would be accurate. I guess that depends on your perspective definition of many.




odd
By MonkeyPaw on 11/26/2006 10:38:23 AM , Rating: 2
It does seem strange that etailers would use rediculous deals to lure in customers, only to have their servers overload from the traffic. Instead of selling more, they sold far far less during those times because no one could shop the other "deals." Businesses really have the consumer over a barrel--we put up with a lot just to have a chance at a good deal.




The high cost of low price
By borowki on 11/26/06, Rating: -1
Self-inflicted pain
By Beenthere on 11/26/06, Rating: -1
"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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