Black Friday 2016:
We’re ready. Are you?

Christmas Display

Black Friday. The day is a wrought with mixed emotions, from eagerness to dread for many retailers. Black Friday and the days leading up to and after are the most profitable shopping days of the year for brick-and-mortar and web retailers around the world. The world’s top retailers and e-commerce websites spend all year planning their strategy and optimizing their sites. Uptrends is ready to watch the top 50 US e-commerce sites to see how well their hard work pays off.

Historically, Black Friday included the Friday and to a lesser degree the weekend after Thanksgiving; now, the event encompasses a full week of presales, early bird specials, doorbusters, and ongoing promotions that last into the New Year. Other days such as Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday have become equally competitive. No matter which day you want to declare as, “your day,” the truth is that the entire week is full of in-store and e-commerce shoppers looking for a deal, comparing prices, and spending their cash online and in the stores.

We’ve made a list, and we’re checking it… frequently

Here at Uptrends we’re watching 50 of the busiest retail sites on the Internet to see how they compare and perform. Using Amazon’s Alexa’s The top 500 sites on the web, we compiled a list of the top 50 US retail websites.  We will track each site during the weeks before and the week after Black Friday. We have set up three different monitor types for each site:

Uptime Monitor

Uptrends Uptime monitors check each minute for the availability of the URL from our growing list of over 150 checkpoints. We will use Uptrends’ 36 US checkpoints for our Black Friday Monitoring. The checkpoints send a request to the URL and wait for an error-free response; the checkpoints report information about the response time and any errors they encountered when connecting to the site. To avoid needless alerts, Uptrends tests again from another checkpoint for error confirmation before sending an alert. With our uptime monitoring, we will know exactly when and how long the site was down, and we can track the total amount of downtime during the week of Black Friday.

Mobile website monitoring

We have set up each site with a Real Browser Check (RBC) for mobile monitoring. The RBC sends a request and loads the response into an actual browser, just like a regular site visitor. Using Chrome, we can simulate one of 16 different mobile devices. For our testing, we’ve simulated an Apple iPhone 6 Plus with an 8-Mbit Connection. We chose an 8-Mbit connection because, although mobile LTE connections can produce much higher speeds, according to Twinprime with the current overburdened US system, users see less than half of the bandwidth capabilities available. With mobile website monitoring, we will get a good idea of the mobile user’s experience with each of the 50 retailers.

Performance monitoring

Uptrends Full Page Check (FPC) monitors a site’s page elements (including third-party elements). Each page element requires a separate request and response. Uptrends captures the connection details and displays the information in a waterfall report. We have set up each of the 50 monitors to use the latest version of the Chrome browser. The Uptrends Checkpoints automatically update their browser versions, so by default, we always use the latest and greatest browser version. You can also specify older versions of the browsers for your FPC monitors as well. With these tests, not only will we know if a site has performance issues, but we will know exactly which elements caused the poor response times.

The websites

Using Alexa, we took the top 50 e-commerce sites, and we disregarded sites such as Google and Facebook to focus on US e-commerce sites only. The list as of mid-October 2016 is as follows:

1. Amazon 18. Overstock 35. CVS
2. Ebay 19. Zappos 36. RedBubble
3. Etsy 20. 6 PM 37. DX
4. Walmart 21. Staples 38. Toys R Us
5. Ikea 22. Forever 21 39. QVC
6. Home Depot 23. Sears 40. J. Crew
7. Target 24. JC Penny 41. Cabela’s
8. HM 25. Urban Outfitters 42. Office Depot
9. Macy’s 26. Walgreens 43. REI
10. Nike 27. Sephora 44. Dick’s Sporting Goods
11. Newegg 28. iHerb 45. Ulta Beauty
12. Nordstrom 29. Barns and Noble 46. Sony
13. 30. Bed, Bath & Beyond 47. Costco
14. Lowe’s 31. GameStop 48. Kmart
15. Kohl’s 32. Victoria’s Secret 49.
16. Costco 33. Yoox 50. HSN
17. Gap 34. Sam’s Club

The follow-up

Once we have the data collected, you can expect a detailed report on our findings. Also, follow us on social media to get any early observations or findings. Is your site ready? The web’s top 50 e-commerce websites have spent a lot of time and effort to ensure a successful season, and we will learn soon enough how well that preparation paid off for them. Is your website ready? If so, how do you know? With Uptrends monitoring, you can make sure your page’s load quickly and smoothly. You can see exactly which elements load quickly and what elements drag down your sites performance. Plus, with our alert options (email, SMS, phone/voice, PagerDuty, Slack, and push notifications through the Uptrends app), you will know before your customers when your website is in trouble. Proactive optimization leads to a successful holiday season.

Don’t wait for your site to crash and burn, sign on for a free 30-day trial today!


Image credit: Photo by Ben Salter. Used under the Creative Common License.

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