August 19, 2004, 12:00 AM

Performance monitoring: For serious site operators, it’s no longer optional

E-retailers use third parties for everything from payment processing to hosting. Consistent, objective measurement of performance gives them a tool for managing technology vendor relationships, says AlertSite.


Retailers are continuously focused on the customer experience-one reason web performance monitoring is moving beyond basics like page availability and download speed to track the performance of on-site transactions and individual applications. What may be overlooked is that performance monitoring serves a second key function. Besides gauging the customer experience, it also gives retailers a tool to manage technology supplier relationships in an online retail environment in which more and more site functionality is outsourced, Ken Godskind, vice president of marketing at web performance monitoring service AlertSite, tells Internet Retailer.

Godskind notes outsourcing in one form or another is an increasingly large part of most online retail businesses. For example, many e-commerce web sites are hosted by an outside provider, most use third party payment processing, and more are outsourcing and integrating into their own shipping management systems the shipment tracking automation from UPS and Fed Ex online. Many e-retailers are leveraging Yahoo and eBay for the infrastructure and platform of their storefronts. “These companies have integrated best practices into their storefronts already so the storefront owners don’t have to learn database set up, hosting, or HTML editing,” says Godskind.

If the goal of outsourcing is a lower cost of doing business and more satisfied customers, that goal is met if the outsourced systems are well engineered. So consistent, objective measurement of those processes is an important method of managing their relationship with technology suppliers for e-retailers, Godskind says.

“If there is a systemic issue with a service provider and everyone is having a problem, the provider is aware of it. But my guess is that if the performance problem is on one of hundreds of servers out there, and it`s on a particular feature of a particular site, that may be a little hard for the provider to detect in the overall scheme of things,” he says. “That’s why it’s important to be looking out for yourself as a retailer.”

Godskind adds that for retailers, performance monitoring supports an easier and more fact-based way of interacting with technology suppliers versus depending on customer reports of site trouble. “It’s also an easier method of understanding that the business processes to which you are exposing customers through the site are error free and performing well,” he says. “Monitoring is no longer optional because it helps CRM go both ways,” he says.


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