Visitor Monitoring Cyber Monday Breaks Records, But Could It Have Been Even Better? | Keynote

Cyber Monday Breaks Records, But Could It Have Been Even Better?

By Aaron Rudger | November 28, 2012

CATEGORIES: Web Performance

Oh, what a difference a day makes!

By many accounts, Cyber Monday was another record setting day for online retailers. Some estimates have suggested that total sales reached nearly $2 billion! At the handmade & vintage goods marketplace Etsy, more sellers completed deals on Cyber Monday than at any time in their 7-year history. And IBM analytics reported that 18% of all site traffic came from mobile devices.

This is great news for e-commerce companies. But for many, Cyber Monday wasnotthe smooth sales day we observed in our retail indices for Web and mobile performance over the Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend.

The average Total User Experience Time for home pages in our Top Retailers index was 2.98 seconds, 7% slower than the previous day. As the amount of traffic surged in the afternoon and evening hours, many sites began to struggle. In the graph below, we’ve overlaid the real time sales volume that IBM tracked throughout the day against the hourly average of Total User Time for the home pages in our index.


Although the number of retailers represented in the index is relatively low, there does appear to be a correlation between increased load (sales volume) and performance. We’ve observed a similar correlation in the past.

Overall site availability was high, however, some retailers experienced significant issues. Third party content failures appeared in many measurements, and back-end problems appeared in others. The Saks Fifth Avenue website was unable to successfully complete transactions for nearly 2 hours from 1:39pm ET to 3:26pm ET.

Their Twitter feed confirmed the site’s difficulties:


Keynote tracks the performance of 22 different retail transactions which allows us to monitor the user experience of someone visiting a site, searching for a product and then adding it to the shopping cart. The data from these transactions inclusive of Cyber Monday will be available next week.

Our Mobile Commerce index also observed that mobile website performance slowed across the board for home pages accessed on smartphones. At a couple points during the day, average page load time exceeded 18 seconds, 2X the previous week’s average and well below user expectations.


Mobile sales nearly doubled this year to 13% of all receipts online. But given the functionality issues our recent study of several major retailer mobile sites revealed, and the slow response times of the sites in our index, mobile commerce still has a long way to go. This may be why bounce rate for mobile is 20% higher than the desktop bounce rate (39.42% vs. 32.77%).

Overall, retailers performed well this Cyber Monday—especially for their desktop customers. Record setting traffic and sales volume is the ultimate testament to the preparation and execution of web operations professionals across the retail industry. But of course the holiday shopping season has only just begun!

Back to Top