August 17, 2006, 12:00 AM

Web sites’ outside applications need performance testing too, says Gomez

Few online retail environments today are delivered entirely from the retailer. But for e-retailers that don’t performance-test third-party apps along with their own, they could be the weakest link in the chain, says performance monitoring company Gomez.

Smart retailers are testing and checking site functionality and usability before locking down for the holiday season. Smarter ones are also testing the performance of those applications at various loads and under different circumstances. And the smartest may be those who are going beyond that to check the performance on their site of not only the applications they have built for the site themselves, but those they import on a hosted basis from outside providers.

Working with outside partners to test the applications they provide is a newly emerging trend among retail sites, notes Matt Poepsel, vice president of professional services and performance at performance testing and monitoring service provider Gomez Inc. “When we talk to leading e-retailers, they will say their biggest challenge is that they can have all of the code and capacity and testing processes in place, but as soon as they put somebody else on their site, it’s the weakest link in the chain,” he says. “They are subject to all of that party’s processes, and it’s not transparent.”

Poepsel notes that there are few online retail environments today that are delivered entirely from the retailer. In fact, of the top 10 retailers in Internet Retailer’s Top 500, eight out of 10 are constructed with at least some third-party contribution, with some of these online retail environments having as much as 60% of site functionality delivered by outside partners, according to data from Gomez.

“Online retailers are increasingly relying on partners to deliver content, advertisements, web tracking code and other crucial user-facing functions,” says Poepsel. “The leaders in online retail are those who can ensure that the entire store environment delivers an excellent experience for every customer, every time.”

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