April 26, 2011, 2:27 PM

How an online cosmetics retailer survived a 20,000% spike in daily orders

VapourBeauty.com hits the big time after the site is featured on the “Today” show.

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Vapour Organic Beauty didn’t miss a beat last Tuesday after an appearance on NBC’s “Today” morning show brought more than 1.8 million visitors to its e-commerce site, VapourBeauty.com, even though the online cosmetics manufacturer and retailer is accustomed to only about 800 visits a day.

Thanks in large part to advance preparation from e-commerce technology provider ShopVisible LLC and its web hosting partner Hostway, VapourBeauty.com was able to sustain the traffic spike and a nearly 20,000% increase in daily order volume.

“On a good day, we may receive about 20 orders,” says Tara King, marketing and web coordinator for Vapour. “On the ‘Today Show’ day, we received 4,000 orders.”

In the week prior to the show, ShopVisible and Hostway moved VapourBeauty.com to dedicated servers and offloaded such content as images and videos to a content delivery network—that is, a network of servers that cache web site content so it can be more quickly delivered to consumers.  That way, expected traffic spikes would not hamper site performance or crash any of the other sites hosted by ShopVisible, says Josh Lloyd, founder of ShopVisible. “On the day of the airing, the content we offloaded was 90 gigabytes,” he says. “We were able to take that content and spread it away from our servers, so our servers could do what they were meant to do, which is process orders.”

Last Tuesday, along with four other web retailers, VapourBeauty.com offered deep discounts on its products for viewers of "Today."  While three out of the five retailer’s e-commerce sites crashed, VapourBeauty.com stayed live and experienced no drops in response time or site availability, King says.

ShopVisible supplies e-commerce platform technology and consulting services to such online retailers as Tempur-Pedic International Inc., No. 218 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide, home décor retailer Bambeco and beauty products supplier Bluemercury.com.

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