March 6, 2012, 1:45 PM

Target’s multiple site crashes put a dent in its bottom line

The multichannel retailer says it has implemented “hundreds of fixes” this year.

Zak Stambor

Managing Editor

Lead Photo

Target's redesigned site has crashed multiple times since launching last August.

Target Corp. suffered numerous crashes last fall after launching a redesigned site in August. And that lack of stability put a dent in the retailer’s bottom line, said Gregg W. Steinhafel, the retailer’s president and CEO, last week during a conference call with analysts.

“The primary time frame where it hurt the most was really in the November and the first couple of weeks of December,” he said. The retailer doesn’t break out its online sales, but it reported a fourth quarter profit of $981 million, or $1.45 per share, near the bottom end of the $1.43 to $1.53 per share projection it stated in the third quarter.

However, since the holiday season ended, Target’s online teams have implemented “hundreds of fixes” to address those issues. Target declined to provide more detail on those fixes.

The result is a more stable Target.com, which has helped boost sales, said Steinhafel. “As we have added fixes to the web site and maintained its stability, we have also worked on things like site navigation, speed, page loading, waiting and the overall experience,” he said. “And we have seen our business on the .com site continue to get better.”

Traffic to the site continues to be good, he said. “We're very encouraged about the fact that the guests still love coming to the web site,” said Steinhafel. “What we were disappointing in was the experience once they got there, and so our conversion rates were not to where they had been in the past, and that aspect is what we've seen an improvement on over the last six or eight weeks.”

Target’s redesign, which took two years to come to fruition, marked the retail chain’s divorce from Amazon.com Inc.’s e-commerce platform, which Target had used for a decade. AT&T hosts Target’s new site, which also relies on technology from IBM Corp. and Endeca Technologies Inc.

Target is No. 22 in the Internet Retail Top 500 Guide.

At the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012, Kevin Diamond, chief technology officer, HauteLook, and Lelah Manz, chief strategist for commerce, Akamai Technologies Inc., will speak in a session entitled “My web site is down! Why the Internet doesn’t always work and what this means for your business.”

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