What We Learned from The Holiday Shopping Season in 2018

by | Feb 7, 2019

Andrew Humber

Andrew hails from the UK, but headed for the warmer Bay Area climate over a decade ago. When he’s not being Webscale’s VP of Marketing, he’s a husband, father, dog walker, wine taster, and hopeless home improver.

The holiday shopping season of 2018 set new sales records globally for the e-commerce industry. Cyber Monday in the US alone generated close to $7.9 billion in sales, and Alibaba crushed last year’s Singles Day sales record as consumers spent more than $30 billion in the 24-hour shopping event.

But was e-commerce infrastructure ready to deal with this onslaught of frenzied buying? After the dust settled in January 2019, we conducted a survey of more than 350 ecommerce professionals to find out.

We discovered that 76% of the surveyed professionals generated 20% – 50% of their annual revenue during the fourth quarter, making it, without a doubt, the most important time of the year for the e-commerce industry. Yet, on the infrastructure side, the numbers didn’t tell an encouraging story:

  • Downtime: 23.85% of online merchants witnessed over 5 minutes of downtime. 5.5% merchants saw their sites crash for over 30 minutes. Barneys New York, Ulta Beauty, and several other big names ended up apologizing on popular social networks.
  • Performance: 56% online merchants experienced page load times in excess of 3 seconds, while over 30% exceeded 5 seconds. About 9% e-commerce sites saw page load times of 9 seconds or more.
  • Security: 21% e-commerce merchants admitted to experiencing security incidents, ranging from DDoS attacks to credit card theft attempts. Another industry report highlighted that DDoS attacks shot up by over 70% on Black Friday and an overwhelming 109% on Cyber Monday when compared to any other day in November.

These figures are not acceptable, period.

Site downtime is still extremely common during the holiday season, leading to lasting repercussions in the form of loss of revenue, customer loyalty, and brand image. Similarly, site performance numbers across the board, as well as cyber-security threats remain a growing concern.

But things are looking brighter. According to the report, 36.1% merchants are considering new solutions to enhance site performance and 24.1% are looking to invest in resources to eliminate downtime. 29.6% online merchants are serious about upgrading their security posture.

For more information on the State of E-Commerce Infrastructure, download the whole report here.

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