Cyber Monday – Friend or Foe?

Cyber Monday is one of the largest revenue generating days for e-commerce companies. In fact, online sales were at a record high this past Monday. An analysis by Comscore, Inc. puts total online revenue at $2 billion, the heaviest Web-spending day ever for the fourth straight year.

Posting industry records would make it seem like the ideal day for the e-commerce business, but while there is the potential for greater sales revenue, the day can quickly become a disaster if a company is not prepared to handle the heavy website traffic.

Many of the top retail companies experienced issues with their online sites throughout the day on Monday, impacting their revenue immensely. Motorola Mobility, which was offering a discount on their new smart phone Moto X, was one of those that experienced a major outage. If you were one of the many consumers who tried to take advantage of this deal, you know the site became unusable, which prevented many from purchasing.

Motorola immediately took to social media to remedy the situation by updating customers on the issue and offering a solution, but the damage had already been done. The cost to Motorola for the outage is extensive and long-lasting:

  1. Revenue loss – During outage due to the inability to purchase and the loss from the increased discount of offering double the amount of phones than originally planned
  2. Switching cost – Motorola was not asking customers to sign a contract with the purchase of this new phone,which made it easy for customers to choose another cell phone provider
  3. Customer Satisfaction – The inconvenience for customers will decrease satisfaction and loyalty

These damaging costs were largely due to the failure of the pre-sale testing done for the website, a failure that can be prevented with the correct tools. Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside explained

…our pre-sale site testing was not sufficiently extensive. Testing failed to reveal weaknesses caused by large volumes of concurrent orders flowing through the MotoMaker customization engine.

Proper testing is essential in ensuring that your website will function correctly when interfacing with end-users. To test properly, Motorola needed an application performance management (APM) platform that can track transactions across all applications, regardless of language (java, .Net, PHP). They needed to measure the entire technology stack, monitoring every user click so they could identify problems and pinpoint who should fix it, in order to eliminate downtime.

Cyber Monday has the potential to provide a significant influx of sales for any retail company, but if not monitored properly, what is meant to be an e-commerce Christmas can quickly become a catastrophe.