What Was Wal-Mart Thinking When It Made Key Site Changes <i>On</i> Black Friday?

At about 6 AM New York time on Black Friday (Nov. 28), Wal-Mart's site went down for about an hour and then came back up. But this time, the company had moved its content pages to an outside service. Wal-Mart said this was a scheduled change, a concept that Gareth Evans, head of client services at Web tracking firm Sitemorse, finds unlikely.

"We saw where they suddenly shifted all of their, presumably, image content over to Akamai on the morning of Black Friday," Evans said. "Now that's a really odd thing to do, you know? Hey, it's a really big day. Let's make a major change to our infrastructure without testing it. What if that had gone wrong? As it happens, they were OK once it came onstream, but they had no idea whether that was going to benefit them or be detrimental. They turned it on at 7 o'clock in the morning."

Evans made his comment as part of a podcast discussion on how E-tailers fared during 2008's Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Also on the panel: Shawn White, director of external operations at Keynote; Imad Mouline, CTO for Gomez; and Peter Alguacil, analyst for Pingdom. StorefrontBacktalk Editor Evan Schuman moderated the discussion.