November 27, 2007, 12:00 AM

Blockbuster knocks out Overstock to win Gomez site performance tournament

Strong performance throughout the contest by retail chains like Blockbuster suggests they`re increasingly focused on e-commerce, Gomez says. Gomez says the sites it tracked Monday mostly held up well despite high traffic, with some exceptions.

Blockbuster came out on top of a Gomez tournament that measured the performance of 64 e-commerce sites as the holiday shopping season was getting underway. More importantly, in the real world of holiday shopping, Gomez says the e-commerce sites it tracks mostly held up well as traffic soared over the last few days, with a couple of exceptions.

Blockbuster bested Overstock.com yesterday in availability, response time and consistency to win the Gomez “merchant madness” tournament. The tournament began with the 64 leading online retailers by revenue, as reported in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, paired head to head, and Blockbuster came out on top in each of the five rounds. Blockbuster is No. 51 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and Overstock No. 25.

The strong performance throughout the tournament of retail chains like Blockbuster suggests that companies best known for their stores have come to recognize the importance of e-commerce, says Matt Poepsel, vice president of performance strategies at Gomez. “It’s good to see those physical store retailers are getting serious about performance,” Poepsel says.

While only Blockbuster and Overstock were still alive in the tournament yesterday, it was a big day for all online retailers as an estimated 70 million Americans shopped via the web. The typical site performed well, with some slowdowns that normally would not prevent a consumer from completing a sale, Poepsel says.

Two exceptions were CompUSA, whose site was 50% slower than normal, and Costco, where the site was nine to 10 times slower than usual. “On average, retailers handled the bulge fairly well, but there were notable examples that remind us all we have to be diligent about the experiences we deliver,” Poepsel says.

Thorough testing of web sites long before the holiday season is key to delivering good performance when the shopping crush begins, Poepsel says. He says that is even more important today as e-commerce sites become more complicated, with such features as live chat, customer reviews and cross-channel inventory data.

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