Retail Site Performance Improves Over ’99

Despite fair performance overall, some individual e-commerce sites had their problems keeping up with the shoppers this holiday season, according to Keynote.

Keynote’s annual e-Shopping Holiday Report measured the performance and availability of 30 top e-commerce Web sites starting the week of Nov. 5, as well as the transaction performance of 12 sites on the Keynote Retail Industry Benchmark™.,,,,, and led in Web page download performance with measurements averaging less than 2.0 seconds since Nov. 12.,, and led in transaction performance with the best results during the four weeks measured.

Thanksgiving week was the slowest week of the season for users to access e-commerce Web pages, with performance of several sites taking up to twice as long as the week before, including,,,, and Overall performance improved steadily in subsequent weeks, despite performance declines at many sites, offset by significant improvements at others. Individual sites, notably and, experienced slow performance, with marked improvement the week of Dec. 3 with performance under 8.0 seconds.

Given the individual site problems and ups and downs even among those sites doing better, it appears that there continues to be plenty of room for improvement when it comes to delivering a top quality experience to online customers, according to Keynote.

Performance overall in 2000 improved over last year. In 1999, Keynote measured the page download performance and availability characteristics of 10 of the top e-commerce sites during the holidays. The week before Thanksgiving this year was 66.24 percent better than the corresponding week in 1999 (which was last year’s worst online holiday shopping week); the week of Thanksgiving this year was 10.75 percent better than the corresponding week last year; the week after Thanksgiving this year was 23.94 percent better than 1999; and the first week of December this year was 21.32 percent better than last year.

Keynote also measured e-commerce transaction performance, in this case the time it takes for online users to search for an item of apparel on the 12 major retail sites comprising the new Keynote Retail Industry Benchmark. The slowest week for transaction performance was the week of Dec. 3, with an average 15.50 seconds to complete the transaction. Transaction results since Keynote starting measuring them the week of Nov. 12 ranged from 4.13 seconds for to 28.54 seconds for the worst-performing site.

“The good news is that many sites performed acceptably well, at least according to the ‘eight-second rule.’ The bad news is that some e-commerce sites still are not immune to performance slowdowns in the face of heavy traffic,” said Dan Todd, Chief Technologist of the Public Services division at Keynote. “Where online customer quality of experience is concerned, sites need to be prepared for ‘traffic storms’ of the kind we see during the holidays.”

Keynote 2000 e-Shopping Holiday Report
Overall Week Results, Nov. 5 to Dec. 23, 2000
Web Page Performance(a) Transactions(b)
Week Performance
11/5-11 3.15 97.0%
11/12-18 2.88 95.2% 14.62
11/19-25 3.97 98.3% 14.46
11/24 only
(Black Friday)
4.72 97.3%
11/26-12/2 3.43 98.3% 14.11
12/3-9 3.32 95.3% 15.50
12/10-16 3.13 97.1% 12.85
12/17-23 2.93 97.8% 10.57
(a) Based on 30 sites. Measurements based on all 7 days from 5am – 9pm PST.
(b) Based on 12 sites.
Source: Keynote

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