Anatomy of Click Frenzy’s failure, and what e-tailers can learn

Originally Published: 22 November 2012

Two days after the highly-anticipated Click Frenzy shopping event collapsed under the weight of its own hype, website performance analysts Compuware have released data showing just where the website failed and what the frenzy of clicking actually delivered consumers.

Compuware benchmarked the performance of Click Frenzy in the hours leading up to the 7pm AEST start time, as well as the hours following.

Compared to 74 other Australian transactional websites – including Harvey Norman, Masters, Appliances Online and David Jones – Click Frenzy had the third quickest response time (2.15 seconds) and the highest success rate from 12am until 7pm on the day of the sale. However, once the sale began, and through the period from 7pm until midnight, Click Frenzy’s response time dropped to 6.72 seconds and its success rate was third last at 46.4 per cent, above only David Jones and Teds.com.au.

According to Rafi Katanasho, Compuware application performance management director for Asia Pacific, it only took three minutes for the website to implode.

“The Click Frenzy site started experiencing connectivity issues at about 6.58pm and by 7.01pm users could not connect,” he said. “Occasionally when it did connect, the connect time was excessive, about 9 seconds, and the server response with the first piece of information was taking 5+ seconds and download time was 50+ seconds in some instances.

“Eventually when users managed to find the deals and were re-directed to the online retailer website to complete the transactions, many of those retailers’ websites we either too slow to respond or completely inaccessible.”

Compuware charted its findings in a graph that paints a very grim picture for Australia’s first Cyber Tuesday shopping event.

 

Click Frenzy's response times.

Click Frenzy’s response times.

The broken blue line on the graph shows the complete drop-off in website reliability, while the blue dots plotted on the graph show the huge jump in response times experienced by consumers.

Katanasho said that the Click Frenzy disaster held valuable lessons for Australian retailers that are attempting to break into e-commerce and host their own high-traffic websites.

“The Click Frenzy team have probably done weeks of testing and preparation for this; however, most organisations fail to test the entire Application Delivery Chain,” he said.

He noted that many organisations do website stress-testing from within their own data centres “or at best from key cloud locations,” and that such testing is inadequate.

“This doesn’t reflect real life scenarios and real user behaviour from the last mile, using a host of different devices and browsers,” he said. “It also fails to test all the components of the highly complex interconnected web and mobile application delivery chain.”

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