August 23, 2002, 12:00 AM

Lillian Vernon prepares for holiday with “live” site performance testing

Troubleshooting from production system tuning service ActiveTune helps boost capacity to 2,000 concurrent users from 200.

With its web site now generating 15% of sales some and 60% of that coming through in the fourth quarter, web performance will be critical to a successful holiday season at Lillian Vernon Corp. To reduce any down time while keeping site performance up when use is heaviest, the company is using ActiveTune from Mercury Interactive. The production system tuning service, which validates the performance of applications and systems in a live versus a static environment, helped boost scalability during its first use at Lillian Vernon, allowing 2,000 concurrent visitors to use the site instead of 200 as formerly.

“It’s essential that customers are able to get onto the site, have a good shopping experience and make their purchases,” says Ellis Admire, director of information technology at Lillian Vernon. “If the site isn’t fast enough or if customers have trouble navigating the site, can`t place orders or the process is too difficult, they will abandon the shopping cart, or at best, compete the transaction and never come back.”

ActiveTune tests and validates on a live site without disrupting business or transactions. That let Lillian Vernon develop, launch, and validate a new shopping application late in the last holiday season at a time when the web site was experiencing peak traffic. Lillian Vernon also uses the testing and validation service to monitor and adjust site performance during e-mail campaigns, which generate heavy and concentrated response loads and can tax systems as a result.

“Every time we plan huge e-mail campaign or modify the site, we must determine what impact it will have on the customers` experience,” adds Admire. “We must validate the effect of the changes and whether or not they negatively impact site performance. ActiveTune is now an essential service for us.”


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