12/05/08

One UK e-commerce site’s loss is others’ gain, Hitwise says

A 25% discount led to a surge in traffic last month to the web site of U.K. store Debenhams, and a site crash. Even after the site came back, shoppers were more likely to move on to sites of other retailers, including one of a top rival, one vendor says.

Katie Evans , Managing Editor, International Research

A 25% discount offer on all items led to a surge of traffic last month to the web site of U.K. department store Debenhams-a surge so big it brought down the site. Even after the Debenhams site came back, consumers were more likely to move on to sites of other retailers, notably rival Marks & Spencer, according to Hitwise, which measures web traffic.

The Debenhams site crashed Nov. 20 and was down for nearly 24 hours, according to a blog posting by Graham Charlton, a research at E-consultancy, a U.K. Internet marketing and e-commerce consulting firm. Charlton noted that the Debenhams site posted a notice that it was experience significant delays due to “unprecedented demand.” “Surely the company could have predicted that putting a 25% discount offer would lead to higher than expected demand, and taken steps to cope with this,” Charlton writes.

Even after the site went back up, consumers were leaving the Debenhams site and going to other retailers more than they had before the crash, according to Hitwise. Downstream traffic from the Debenhams site to other retailers’ web sites was 46.9% Nov. 22, after the crash, whereas it had been 33.2% Nov. 18, before the web site experienced problems. The biggest beneficiary was rival department store Marks & Spencer, which garnered 4.6% of the traffic leaving Debenhams, Hitwise analyst Robin Goad says in a blog posting.

Debenhams did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Topics:

business, business finance, Debenhams, department store, Technology Internet

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