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Retailers geared up for ‘Mega Monday’

Online retailers need to deal with a spike in traffic volume, with any website failure resulting in loss of sales.

shopping scene

Online retailers face major traffic volumes on Monday 7 December, what e-retail body IMRG says will be the busiest online shopping day of the year for the UK.

Retailers like Amazon, Play.com, Tesco and Argos will be expected to deal with hoards of online shoppers looking to buy gifts for Christmas, with a prediction that 350 million will be spent on Monday alone.

To look at the challenges retailers face at this time of year, IT PRO spoke to Dan Sutherland, chief executive of web hosting company Carrenza, which hosts websites for eBay and Paypal.

He said retailers needed to get the fundamental elements of the site working in the background, before looking at the colouring in' at the front-end.

Sutherland said: "We see a lot of people who have really good marketing ideas about driving traffic for this very period, but have to deal with busy sites."

The back-end technology had to be absolutely stable, and retailers needed good understanding about how people came to their sites.

"Four or five years ago e-retailers would have web servers serving the website, with people going to them via Google or typing in the URL," he said.

"Now [traffic] would be coming from all manner of web 2.0 environments, and the performance they ultimately get will not be down to a single bit of infrastructure."

Sutherland said shoppers generally didn't understand or care about the technology behind websites, and it was simply down to the retailer to offer the right user experience to get them to spend.

"We also spend a lot of time working on the patterns of traffic that retailers are likely to get in particular point in time, so we can shape out response according to their needs," he said.

The worst-case scenario for a retailer would be to go completely offline, where it would lose profits due to lost sales.

"You're also going to lose an immense amount of reputation," added Sutherland.

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