The move follows similar programs from Target and Amazon.
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Gomez and Keynote Systems already publish indices that benchmark retail site performance on availability and response times; in June, both planned to expand their indices to cover the performance of site operations in greater depth. Gomez’s expanded benchmark system, the Gomez Consistency Benchmark, will measure Internet business processes and the infrastructure impacts on end-user performance. Keynote’s expansion will build on recently-launched service-level management services with an annual study that benchmarks 20 retailers against their peers along 10 or more performance factors compiled from as many as 40 underlying metrics.
Darmesh Thakker, senior product manger for service level agreements at Keynote, says SLAs in performance contracts between a retailer’s business team and internal or outsourced operations units have two aspects. “There’s applications performance-is my site going to be 99.9% available and have a response time of no more than 8 seconds?” he says. “Then there’s the operational responsiveness component, which says, if site operations do exceed these thresholds, how quickly am I going to get that issue resolved?” The expanded index will provide data that will serve to expand SLAs beyond availability and responsiveness to cover components of those broader metrics, he adds.
With feedback on the technology supporting site operations available in increasing detail, expanded offerings from existing vendors and more vendors getting into the game, are IT departments charged with keeping the site and its applications humming risking information overload? It’s a concern that’s bubbled up in response to rapid developments in other areas of e-commerce technology. “More data that we know what to do with” is one complaint sometimes voiced by site operators trying to figure out how to apply the seemingly infinite information available from marketing analytics, for example.
That seems less likely to be the case when measuring the more finite dimensions of response time, availability and the elements that affect them. In fact, as more monitoring and site operations software and services emerge, some retailers are finding that having overlapping tools doesn’t muddy the water, but instead clarifies findings and results in more dependable data. “It helps to have a couple of different reporting packages,” says Ertell. “When they correlate, you can believe the numbers.”
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