April 21, 2011, 10:18 AM

Better software equals better site performance for Belk

Site availability has jumped to 99.6% and checkout page speed has improved 50%.

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A change in software is making a big difference in web site performance for Belk Inc.

As part of a major web site redesign and e-commerce platform update, Belk, No. 358 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, replaced about 80 of its outdated and internally developed Java applications with new software from Azul Systems Inc. The software aims to make it easier for retailers to run Java applications, monitor and modify e-commerce applications during peak periods and improve web site consistency and page loading times, says Murali Bandaru, Belk director for information technology solutions delivery.

“We were able to solve our Java scalability issues and provide a very consistent user experience on our site," he says.

With smoother-operating Java applications, Belk reduced the time it takes a shopper to navigate a shopping cart checkout page and complete a transaction by as much as 16 seconds, he says.

Belk, which only scored a consistency rating of “fair” and a site availability reading of 98.4% in the 2010 Top 500 Guide, now has a consistent site availability rating of 99.6% based upon internal measurements, says Bandaru.  “Through various types of feedback, our customers were telling us the site had been slow to load and we addressed the problem,” says Ivy Chin, Belk senior vice president of e-commerce.”Improving site performance is one way we are investing in the web.”

Belk’s site performance enhancement project and overall e-commerce technology upgrade are part of a broader plan that calls for spending $125 million on information technology that the retailer announced in November.

Belk, a regional department store chain headquartered in Charlotte, NC, reported growth in e-commerce sales of 70% to $34.8 million in 2010 from $20.5 million in 2009.

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