(The Hosting News) – In many parts of the world, the last few days have been the busiest period of the year for ecommerce. Last week saw the traditional US post-Thanksgiving ‘Black Friday’ sales, which have begun spreading to other parts of the world in recent years, while last Monday saw the ecommerce sector’s big day – Cyber Monday.
Early figures have suggested this year’s event was the biggest ever, emphasising the increasing importance of having a quality ecommerce platform in place. BBC News reported figures from comScore estimating $1.5 billion (£900 million) was spent in the US alone, while IBM Benchmark calculated there was a 27 per cent increase in sales from last year’s event.
However, not all recent attempts by retailers to cash in on the online shopping boom have been trouble-free. One high-profile scheme that ran into problems was an initiative in Australia last week.
This was an online portal that some of the country’s biggest retailers paid to be involved in, with the idea being consumers would be able to go through a single site to find a bargain for a limited time. It went live on November 20th, but quickly ran into problems.
ZDNet explained the organisers of the event had forecast around one million hits to the site during the 24-hour promotion, but what they were faced with turned out to be double that number trying to log on simultaneously. The result of this was that the servers simply could not cope with the demand and many users were unable to connect.
The site was down for around three hours while engineers tried to relocate it to more robust servers, meaning many people may have been unable to make purchases, costing retailers significant amounts of money.
The application architect told ZDNet’s Patch Monday podcast this should not have happened, as the technology is available to cope with periods of high demand.
He explained: “If you look at, say, ticketing websites these days, they’re fairly stable when, say, Radiohead goes on sale. But back in the day, they would have been crashing left and right and it’s only through a lot of understanding of how to handle traffic spikes that they actually stay online these days.”
Therefore, he said it is vital an ecommerce site is properly structured and tuned to meet periods of high demand. Using scalable web servers that can automatically add extra capacity as required could also be an essential part of making this a success.
He added: “You need to make sure as much of your site as possible is cacheable and so you’re trying to avoid having to generate dynamic pages as much as you can.” He stated if a page will be valid for five minutes without needing new information, that is time that a server is not getting hit.
Commenting on the website difficulties, Seamus Byrne, chief information officer of daily deals website Catch of the Day, told the Sydney Morning Herald: “It comes down to planning and testing – there’s so many variables in an ecommerce application, from your content delivery to your payment gateways to managing the contents of each customer’s cart.”
The publication reported analysts have said there is no excuse for websites going down in circumstances such the ones explained, when it was obvious from the heavy promotion of the scheme and a high number of pre-registrations that demand was going to be huge.
by Peer 1 Hosting (http://www.peer1.com/)