August 11, 2011, 11:30 AM

Holiday success means testing the muscle of an e-commerce site

Apparel retailer Karmaloop ensures peak shopping availability by site performance checks.

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Apparel e-retailer Karmaloop LLC has found that holiday success isn’t just about dazzling discounts and brilliant merchandising. It is also about making sure the guts of its e-commerce operation are as muscular as possible.

The lesson came last year, in advance of the 2010 holiday shopping rush. Traffic to increased 40% in 2010 compared with 2009, straining the site’s availability and performance. Worrying about that site outages could cut into holiday revenue, the retailer, which sells trendy apparel to younger consumers, employed Keynote Systems for site testing.

To measure site performance, Keynote’s testing technology simulates such consumer interactions as browsing an e-commerce site and adding items to online shopping carts. The testing enables Keynote and the retailer to get a fix on performance issues and then to resolve them.

The stakes are high, says Joseph Finsterwald, Karmaloop’s chief technology officer. “Failure of our site could have potentially costs us $50,000 to $100,000 per each hour of outage during peak traffic,” he says. “After we made the changes, our site did well enough that we felt confident that our site would work well going into Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”

Karmaloop is No. 180 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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