Best Buy, Forever 21 websites downed by traffic; Sears, Costco move at top speed

Cyber Monday retail Web traffic looked to be as high, if not higher, than Black Friday, according to early numbers on the Dynatrace Retail Index. However, all of that traffic slowed down and even temporarily shut down several retail websites that were not ready for the heavy flow.

For example, Staples had a slow start in the morning, which customers quickly ranted about on Twitter. Forever21's site was also reported as down during the late afternoon hours of Cyber Monday.

"Of several issues we observed, one recurring theme was companies being unprepared for the major spike in mobile traffic," said David Jones, Dynatrace's Web and mobile performance strategist. "Dynatrace saw this mobile tsunami coming, and our recent survey predicted this year more people would use mobile than ever before, but many sites still struggled to handle the load. Best Buy, for example, had to shut down their site for over an hour because they struggled to handle the mobile traffic. Many companies design and build their sites to be responsive so content delivered is adjusted for the end-user based on whether it is accessed via mobile or Web. Sites that don't test thoroughly in advance of peak times of demand will inevitably struggle to meet demands of all channels."

These shut downs could have long-term effects on a brand's image. Jones said that mobile users are not patient and if a site or app does not load within three seconds, they are likely to abandon it. Some users will even go on to complain about the experience on social media.

Mobile outpaced traditional desktop shopping for the first time ever on Thanksgiving Day, as smartphones and tablets accounted for 52.1 percent of all online traffic, according to IBM's Digital Analytics Benchmark.

According to the Dynatrace blog, by the end of Cyber Monday, Sears, Costco, Office Depot, REI, Saks and Newegg proved best prepared for the influx and "understood that servicing their customers on mobile devices required a different set of priorities than delivering content to traditional desktop browsers."

Similarly, Web performance monitoring company Catchpoint Systems reported problems with retail sites over the weekend. For example, Newegg's mobile site had some failures late Sunday evening and Office Depot's mobile site went down for an hour early Sunday afternoon. While Staples' mobile site did not go down, it was slow mid-morning on Cyber Monday.

Which sites did do well on the big day? Catchpoint reported that on desktop, the fastest sites included H&M, Costco, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Etsy. The fastest mobile sites included Sears, W.W. Grainger, Officer Depot, Ikea U.S. and Saks Fifth Avenue.

According to research by Artisan Mobile, 91 percent of consumers intend to make a purchase through a mobile or tablet app this holiday season.

"While it won't happen in the same concentration for some time, this black Friday/Cyber Monday spike in mobile adoption is not an anomaly," said Jones. "The world is going mobile and more and more people are using mobile more and more often every day. Retailers need to be ready to delight customers across all channels. Mobile is no longer just a piece of the pie, it is the primary touchpoint of a winning sales strategy."

For more:
-See this Dynatrace blog

Related stories:
Cyber security affects consumer holiday spending
Staples opens e-commerce test lab
Macy's sees pay-off from aggressive promotions and omnichannel strategies
Saks uses social media to nap shoppers
Deckers opens first brand showcase store, 'innovation lab' to boost omnichannel growth