July 10, 2009, 12:00 AM

Coolibar sees site though the eyes of customers and sees a need for speed

Coolibar, an e-retailer that sells items such as sunscreen and sun-protective swimwear, used a service to help it learn how customers were navigating and experiencing its retail site. It quickly realized it needed to speed up its site response time.

Coolibar, an e-retailer that sells items such as sunscreen and sun-protective swimwear, used a service to help it see how customers were navigating and experiencing its retail site. It quickly realized it needed to speed up its site response time.

The retailer employed tools from site performance vendor Gomez to test its retail web site for page loading and performance issues throughout the day from different locations. The service included a feature called passive monitoring, which lets Coolibar monitor actual customers’ experiences as they visit and interact with the site. This view from outside the retailer’s firewalls showed some customers were abandoning checkout or product search because response and page load time was too slow. Seeing the site experience through a customer’s view helped prioritize troubleshooting, the retailer says.

After viewing its site using the Gomez tools, Coolibar determined the use of too many outside services was slowing its page loads and response time. It dropped some vendor services and has since cut in half the time it takes for a consumer to complete a site search, add a product to cart and check out, says Alan Higley, vice president of marketing.

For example, Coolibar dropped some analytics services that gathered data it wasn’t using. That made response times faster because such services took a few extra moments to collect consumer information at each step during a transaction before the shopper could continue. Overall, Coolibar cut six of the outside vendors it was using during the checkout process. It further speeded up transaction time by feeding multiple data streams from different hosts to and from the site simultaneously. Before, data streams were exchanged one at a time.

“It was paramount that we could monitor our most important web pages and transactions to ensure they performed properly for our customers,” says Higley. “Gomez’s web performance monitoring produced a 360-degree perspective of our site’s performance.”

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