Holiday Shopping Season 2012 – And Your New Year's Performance Resolution is…?

Depending on the source you read, retail spending during the entire Holiday Shopping Season was either down (according to MasterCard) or up slightly (according to Gallup). However, there is no question that the online retail component of the season was up over 2011, with comScore reporting that online spending during the last full work week before Christmas was up 53% over 2011 at nearly $3.7 billion.

Over the entire Online Holiday Shopping Season, performance has been strong for most firms, with only a few outages of note. But the performance has been dwarfed by some of the trends that we have been tracking through the period.

“They drop in from ANYWHERE!”

The explosive arrival of mobile commerce this year means that retailers will have to have a fully-developed and well-performing mobile site or app for their customers to use during the 2013 Holiday Shopping Season. The huge spike in mobile traffic on Thanksgiving Day also indicates that mobile devices are the shopping locations of convenience, with many consumers leaping on the early Thanksgiving Day bargains from the comfort of their couches without coming into the stores. This trend will only strengthen and deepen in 2013, so expect that consumers will want mobile shopping applications that deliver the same performance and user experience as sites developed for standard desktops.

“Who brought these people to the party?”

While site problems were few, issues with the third-parties used to support applications weren’t. Spikes in performance were often accompanied performance issues that could be traced back to these shared third-party services, from poor performing ad and analytics services to the Amazon Web Services outage on Christmas Eve that affected Netflix. This points to a new trend for 2013 that will see organizations demand that third-party vendors be able to verify that they can support all traffic from all customers on their peak days, such as the Thanksgiving Day weekend.

“Great. Now how do I lose these pounds?”

While sites are showing remarkable progress in performance when examined from backbone measurements, mobile is the goal of the next phase of online commerce. With mobile, many of the rules learned to make desktop we sites fast may not apply, leading to sites that are too large, cumbersome, or slow for customers to want to use for searching and browsing, let alone making purchases. One of the buzz-phrases in web design right now is responsive design, a process that ensures that sites can be designed and built once, then used anywhere and on any device. This process turns site design around by making companies consider how their site looks, feels, and performs on the smallest screens and slowest connections, then building up to full size desktop web sites. This increased focus on mobile will force companies to make decisions about site optimization – not acceleration – that they may not have had to consider in the past.

We’ll be publishing a full report of our analysis of the 2012 holiday season. Read the report to find out:

  • how satisfied shoppers were overall with Web and mobile site performance;
  • which retailers had the best performing Web and mobile sites;
  • the impact of mobile on online shopping;
  • key lessons learned and what retailers need to consider for 2013.

2013 promises to be a dynamic year for web performance professionals, but as a final wrap-up to the 2012 Holiday Season, here are some stats for your year-end review.

iPad and iPhone 5 traffic dwarfed that seen from all other mobile devices.

Top 5 Traffic Days – November 22 – December 26 2012

  1. November 26 (Cyber Monday)
  2. November 23 (Black Friday)
  3. November 22 (Thanksgiving Day)
  4. December 9
  5. December 10 (Green Monday)

Top 5 Browsers – November 22 – December 26 2012

  1. IE 9
  2. Chrome (23)
  3. Safari 6
  4. IE 8
  5. Safari 5

Top 5 Retail Desktop Homepages – November 22 – December 26 2012

  1. Apple
  2. Costco
  3. Dell
  4. LL Bean
  5. Overstock

Top 5 Retail Mobile Homepages – November 22 – December 26 2012

  1. Office Depot
  2. Williams-Sonoma
  3. Barnes and Noble
  5. Amazon

Stay updated