January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Web Shopping Experience Improving, Keynote Says

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

Although online shoppers' frustration may be high as a result of sluggish Web store performance and site unavailability in recent weeks, conditions are improving, reports Keynote, a San Mateo, Calif.-based Internet performance rating company.

According to Keynote's weekly e-Shopping Holiday Watch reports of the top ten Internet sites, overall performance improved 14.2% for consumers shopping from work and 8.2% for those shopping from home during the week ending December 11, over the previous week.

Based on the company's data from more than 600,000 measurements during the week of Dec. 11, Lands' End, eBay, CDNow, eToys, and Wal-Mart ranked highest in performance for online shoppers at work, each averaging 3.70 seconds or better-12.9% faster than the previous week's fifth place site, which averaged 4.25 seconds. And Macy's moved from ninth place the previous week to sixth, averaging 3.72 seconds. For e-shoppers at home during the same period, Lands' End, CDNow, eBay, and Barnes & Noble ranked highest, each with average web site performance of 16.35 seconds or faster-7.1% faster than the previous week's third place site at 17.6 seconds.

According to the report, site availability for the same week averaged 96.4% for online shoppers at work, but 90.3% for shoppers from home-down from 94.4% the previous week.

"Overall site performance continues to be good and has actually improved," says Dan Todd, director of public services at Keynote. "The leading shopping sites are e-commerce veterans that have undoubtedly learned how to prepare for the holiday shopping season in order to maximize site availability under heavy traffic."

Keynote adds that the average performance at work for the week ending Dec.11 ranged from 2.26 seconds for the fastest site to 6.21 seconds for the slowest. Site availability from work ranged from 87.3% to 99.5%, with seven of the ten sites higher than 98%. For online shoppers at home, average performance to access the same ten sites over 56-Kbps modems ranged from 14.61 seconds for the fastest to 29.83 seconds for the slowest. Availability at home ranged from 79.8% to 92.9%.

For its weekly performance reports, Keynote is measuring each site every 15 minutes around the clock to reflect the 24x7 nature of e-commerce during the holiday shopping period from Oct. 24, 1999, through the end of January. The ten sites selected for the study include: Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, CDNow, eToys, eBay, Gateway, Lands' End, Macy's, Wal-Mart, and Wine.com.

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