Performance Nightmares

Are celebrity endorsements doing more harm than good to your retail sales?

Online retailers exploring the recent trend of signing up celebrities to endorse them to their millions of followers on social media run the risk of site-melting bursts of traffic, according to Intechnica co-founder Jeremy Gidlow.

In a talk at GP Bullhound’s event “Online Fashion: Where is the smart money going?” last night, Jeremy pointed to a recent example where Kylie Jenner drove an incredible amount of demand to the website selling her range of lipstick. However, because the demand was so great and was directed at a specific time, the systems behind the website couldn’t cope and the whole website was brought down.

This highlighted a common problem retailers are facing today: Sales reduce margins whilst increasing demand, and the technology needed to cope with the increased demand can be very costly – further cutting into profits.

TrafficDefender is a SaaS solution developed by Intechnica in response to this problem. TrafficDefender allows retail websites to remain online throughout large spikes in web traffic without needing to over invest in additional IT infrastructure.

Watch Jeremy’s talk below or find out more about TrafficDefender.

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Is there such a thing as a fair queue when buying sports tickets online?

When’s the last time you bought a ticket for a sporting event online?

You might remember the problems many people had securing tickets for the London Olympics back in 2012, where website glitches and various delays left many people frustrated (we covered it in this post about web performance nightmares).

Or perhaps you have recently been part of an online queue to buy tickets to the England Rugby World Cup, or to one of many Premiership Football games.

The popularity of these events and the relative scarcity of actual tickets to be sold puts the businesses selling them and maintaining these websites in a unique position. Even when you pretty much know you’re going to sell out, why should you care about the customer experience?

For one thing, fans are quick to voice their disapproval of a bad experience online and lose faith in the process altogether. Let’s take a look at some of the things being said on social media about the online ticket buying experience.

Inconsistent or unfair queue

Sometimes you get placed into a queue, but it never seems to move. Or your position seems to jump around at random, giving you little confidence that the information being shown to you is at all meaningful.

Here are some examples of this from people trying to buy tickets for the Rugby World Cup:

Get to the back of the line – Kicked out of the queue

There’s nothing worse than investing your time into waiting in line for something, only to get to the front and suddenly find yourself at the back of the queue. Are you going to go through the wait all over again or just abandon the queue and your purchase?

It seems like the fans of quite a few football clubs have suffered this fate:

Website crash – No chance to buy

Queues can be frustrating, but even worse is when a site simply breaks and won’t let you make your purchase. This is often down to the popularity of the tickets in question overloading the website with traffic.

Here are a few examples from top football clubs:

So why should ticketing site owners care?

Clearly fans become very frustrated by unfair, inconsistent or broken ticket sales. It makes sense for ticket vendors to use a queue to try to create a fair environment for fans whilst allowing the website to cope gracefully with the high levels of traffic, but often it seems the technology behind these queues are not up to scratch (as evidenced in the above tweets).

What can they do about it?

Intechnica have developed TrafficDefender, a solution specifically designed to provide the best possible customer experience during high demand web events such as ticket sales.

TrafficDefender is built to cope with extreme peaks in traffic to ensure the website defended won’t go down. What’s more, its advanced queueing functionality allows visitors to access the website or specified area of the website in a controlled “first in, first out” manner, always shows accurate information to those waiting, and has advanced features such as live reporting and VIP visitors.

Find out more about TrafficDefender

Web Performance Fails of the Week – April 10th 2015

Welcome to Web Performance Fails of the Week! Each week we’ll report on some high profile performance nightmares via @PerfNightmares on Twitter.

Don’t forget to check out “15 Web Performance Nightmares and the Damage They Caused”. Everyone loves a bit of is schadenfreude after all.

Who’s been in the spotlight this week?

GameStop – Latest amiibo figures go on sale

The latest collector craze sweeping the world is Nintendo’s amiibo figures, a series of toy figurines depicting popular characters, which can be used within video games themselves. The fourth wave of these figures was released for pre-order last week, with American retailer GameStop exclusively stocking a limited edition “Ness” character.

Rare, collectible and extremely popular, it was no wonder demand was high. The bad news was that this took down the whole site so that no other products could be sold until demand died down.

Owl Café – Ticket sale crushes website and app

Yes, that’s right – there’s a café in London where you can share the company of Owls. However, the café, Annie the Owl, is only offering this for a week to those who buy a ticket online – and demand was much higher than what they could actually achieve. This was reflected by the fact that the website just for those who registered for the pre-sale quickly brought the ticketing system crashing down.

There was some Twitter venom sent the way of ticketing site Billetto as well…

Mariah Carey – Caesar’s Palace website falls over

In case you didn’t know how popular Mariah Carey is, she’s actually the record setting solo artist for number 1 hits in the US. So it shouldn’t be surprising that her sending her fans to a website might crash it pretty quickly. In this case it was the Caesar’s Palace website that bore the brunt, having hosted a magazine cover featuring the singer, who will be performing there later this year.

Avoid your own Web Performance Fail

We help blue chip businesses across retail, media, financial services, travel, ticketing and gaming & betting avoid Performance Nightmares by helping them achieve a strategic approach to getting performance right in their applications, as well as implementing tactical fixes. Services includeperformance testing, performance engineering, APM expertise, web and mobile development, andmanaged performance and cloud services. Read more about our Performance by Design approach on our website.

Web Performance Fails of the Week – March 6th 2015

Welcome to Web Performance Fails of the Week! Each week we’ll report on some high profile performance nightmares via @PerfNightmares on Twitter.

Don’t forget to check out “15 Web Performance Nightmares and the Damage They Caused”. Everyone loves a bit of is schadenfreude after all.

Who’s been in the spotlight this week?

V Festival – Pre-sale Woes

The Virgin Media customer-exclusive pre-sale of tickets to the popular V Festival was due to start from 10am this Wednesday. However, to this collective dismay of would-be ticket buyers, this was suddenly bumped back; first by half an hour, then until the afternoon, and finally until the next morning. It seemed that a technical glitch was the cause of the delay.

Kickstarter – Pebble Time Steel rush

Wish smartwatches growing in popularity, the announcement by Pebble of a premium metallic version of their trailblazing timepiece sent fans into a frenzy on the Kickstarter site. This seemed to slow the whole of Kickstarter down significantly, with some unable to access the site.

Forestry Commission – Forest Live ticket sales (ongoing!)

This is seems to be going on as I type this! The Forestry Commission is selling tickets for a “Forest Live” series of gigs across its wildlife venues, featuring acts such as Sam Smith and Robert Plant (no pun intended). However the servers didn’t seem to be able to cope with the demand for tickets, and visitors didn’t seem impressed with the unclear queue they were being placed in to get to the site.

Server busy - Forest Live

Avoid your own Web Performance Fail

We help blue chip businesses across retail, media, financial services, travel, ticketing and gaming & betting avoid Performance Nightmares by helping them achieve a strategic approach to getting performance right in their applications, as well as implementing tactical fixes. Services includeperformance testing, performance engineering, APM expertise, web and mobile development, andmanaged performance and cloud services. Read more about our Performance by Design approach on our website.

Web Performance Fails of the Week – February 27th 2015

Welcome to Web Performance Fails of the Week! Each week we’ll report on some high profile performance nightmares via @PerfNightmares on Twitter.

Don’t forget to check out “15 Web Performance Nightmares and the Damage They Caused”. Everyone loves a bit of is schadenfreude after all.

Who’s been in the spotlight this week?

Adidas – Yeezy Boost flash sale

What happens when one of the biggest celebrities in the world designs a sneaker, unveils it at the Grammys and it goes on sale online? Well, for Adidas Originals, the online sale of Kanye West’s “Yeezy Boosts” went something like this:

Ahead of the European release tomorrow, those wanting a pair of the “extremely limited availability” shoes share the same wish.

Trainsplit.com – Press coverage overloads website

A new website professing to enable visitors to save money on train tickets launch this past week in the form of trainsplit.com. It uses a loophole in the rail ticket booking system to split journeys up into several cheaper tickets as opposed to one more expensive one.

It seems that the process of doing this is quite intensive on their back end systems, especially after press coverage drove more than enough traffic to the site to slow it to a crawl.

TrainSplit

Eventually the site went down altogether.

UK Antarctic Heritage Trust – Job advert crashes website

The UKAHT posted a job advert for four people to work at the Port Lockroy post office off the Antarctic Peninsula. Despite the description (“Can you enthuse to visitors when it is -5C° and blowing a blizzard as well as cook supper cheerfully after a long cold day and very little sleep?”, it cheerily asks), there seems to be plenty of people who find the prospect of living amongst the penguins of Goudier Island attractive, as the website went down.

Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Avoid your own Web Performance Fail

We help blue chip businesses across retail, media, financial services, travel, ticketing and gaming & betting avoid Performance Nightmares by helping them achieve a strategic approach to getting performance right in their applications, as well as implementing tactical fixes. Services include performance testing, performance engineering, APM expertise, web and mobile development, and managed performance and cloud services. Read more about our Performance by Design approach on our website.

Web Performance Fails of the Week – February 20th 2015

Welcome to Web Performance Fails of the Week! Each week we’ll report on some high profile performance nightmares via @PerfNightmares on Twitter.

Don’t forget to check out “15 Web Performance Nightmares and the Damage They Caused”. Everyone loves a bit of is schadenfreude after all.

Who’s been in the spotlight this week?

Amazon – Outage across Europe

Proving that even the biggest names sometimes slip up, ecommerce juggernaut Amazon suffered a brief but embarrassing outage all over Europe this week, although its US site seemed to be unaffected.

It even affected Amazon’s Fire phones, much to the user base’s chagrin.

VisitIthaca.com – Florida advert breaks website

Ithaca is a popular vacation spot in the state of New York, but with the recent weather not being ideal on the east coast of the US, this local travel website decided to admit defeat and suggest that would-be holiday makers choose to go to sunny Florida instead.

It turned out to be an effective publicity stunt, but a flood of new traffic caused the website to get snowed under.

BQ – Ubuntu phone flash sales

The first phone running the Ubuntu mobile OS was released across Europe today, and demand was so much higher than supply that the website struggled to gracefully cope with several “flash sales” promoted by retailer BQ.com.

It seemed that getting one of the handsets truly was a case of being one of the “lucky ones”, as there didn’t seem to be any queuing or intelligent traffic management systems in place to handle the influx of visitors.

Avoid your own Web Performance Fail

We help blue chip businesses across retail, media, financial services, travel, ticketing and gaming & betting avoid Performance Nightmares by helping them achieve a strategic approach to getting performance right in their applications, as well as implementing tactical fixes. Services include performance testing, performance engineering, APM expertise, web and mobile development, and managed performance and cloud services. Read more about our Performance by Design approach on our website.

Web Performance Fails of the Week – February 13th

Welcome to Web Performance Fails of the Week! Each week we’ll report on some high profile performance nightmares via @PerfNightmares on Twitter.

Don’t forget to check out “15 Web Performance Nightmares and the Damage They Caused”. Everyone loves a bit of is schadenfreude after all.

Who’s been in the spotlight this week?

Spicejet – Low Cost Airfare Deal

Budget Indian airline Spicejet ran into problems this week after offering up super cheap flights on its website this week. It’s hardly surprising there was so much demand, with flights on sale for Rs 599 (£6.25).

spicjet-website-crash_142

Ticketmaster – ticket on-sales affected

Ticketmaster in the States apparently ran into problems this week, which caused disruption to people trying to get tickets to see the likes of AC/DC and the band Barenaked Ladies.

The issues lasted for about an hour and were reportedly caused by an unexpected glitch during a change to the site – but it reinforces the real, tangible impact IT problems can have on businesses (read more on that here).

Travelex – “Happy Hour” sale

Currency exchange website Travelex has a regular “Happy Hour” promotion during which times they offer special discounted exchange rates. This is promoted via social media and a newsletter blast that budding money savers can sign up to receive. This week however, Travelex had to extend the offer to make up for problems it customers had in accessing the offer.

This goes to show that even regular activity can sometimes bring in an unexpected spike in traffic and cause problems to a website, especially with time-limited offers.

Avoid your own Web Performance Fail

We help blue chip businesses across retail, media, financial services, travel, ticketing and gaming & betting avoid Performance Nightmares by helping them achieve a strategic approach to getting performance right in their applications, as well as implementing tactical fixes. Services include performance testing, performance engineering, APM expertise, web and mobile development, and managed performance and cloud services. Read more about our Performance by Design approach on our website.