January 17, 2011, 4:43 PM

Williams-Sonoma leads the way for holiday web performance

The home and kitchen goods e-retailer had the best overall site ratings, AlertSite says.

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Williams-Sonoma.com delivered the best overall web experience to shoppers this holiday season, according to AlertSite’s E-Commerce Holiday Web Performance Index. The site monitoring vendor says the e-retailer had a 99.98% reliability rating, which means the vendor’s monitoring system was able to complete its sample transactions at Williams-Sonoma.com 99.98% of the time.

Among the 49 e-retail sites monitored, none had 100% availability. Williams-Sonoma is No. 26 on Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide and says its year-over-year web sales grew nearly 31% during the holidays.

William-Sonoma’s 99.98% availability rating put the retailer of home and kitchen goods in the No. 1 spot for the category. It was sixth in response time at 11.58 seconds. AlertSite measured response time as the average amount of time it took a monitoring script to call up the home page, search for a product, add it to the cart and proceed to checkout.

No. 1 in response time was apparel retailer Forever21.com at 7.48 seconds, followed by FashionBug.com, Avon.com, Kohls.com and Cabelas.com. The average response time among all the monitored retailers was 20.83 seconds.

The e-commerce sites with the longest response times were Eastbay.com (64.10 seconds), HomeDepot.com (58.27 seconds), JCrew.com (53.3 seconds), Apple.com (49.29 seconds) and Overstock.com (46.30 seconds).

AlertSite ran sample transactions at each monitored web site every five minutes from Nov. 29 to Dec. 31 from 12 U.S. locations. The firm ranked SamsClub.com and QVC.com as runners-up for overall experience. Both e-retailers had 99.95% availability and an average response time of 13.46 seconds.

The e-retail sites with the least availability during the holiday season were Overstock.com (84.15%), Chadwicks.com (84.25%), Express.com (91.9%), LLBean.com (93.69%) and JCrew.com (93.61%). JC Penney, which had a rocky start to the season when JCP.com went down for more than two hours Nov. 29, had a 95.11% availability rating.

“An hour of web site downtime or even minor slowdowns can cost retailers thousands of dollars,” says Ken Gross, president and CEO of AlertSite. He says the majority of monitored sites performed better than average. The average availability rating was 97.52%. “What this tells us is retailers are learning from experiences, and putting time and resources into testing the performance of their sites before the holidays arrive,” he says.

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