October 25, 2011, 2:45 PM

Target.com suffers another site outage, this one for more than two hours

The crash is at least the third outage for the newly redesigned e-commerce site.

Lead Photo

The canine mascot in happier times.

The gods of online retail continue to punish Target Corp., as the chain’s recently redesigned e-commerce site crashed again today.

The outage marks at least the third time the new site has crashed since its August debut. The site also crashed less than two weeks ago, after which Steve Eastman, president of Target.com, stepped down to “pursue other opportunities,” according to a statement from his former employer.

A Target spokesman confirmed the site went down today at 11:50 a.m. Central time. “We are working diligently to bring the site back online and to ensure that it is operating efficiently,” the spokesman says. “Target strives to deliver an exceptional guest experience in our stores and online, and we regret the inconvenience to our guests.”

The outage lasted for about two hours and 45 minutes, according to web site performance monitoring firm AlertBot. “The website started timing-out, meaning that the home page failed to load within 30 seconds,” an AlertBot spokesman says. “About 20 minutes later, Target's error pages started to show up.”

Those pages includes messages about internal server errors and a request to the consumer to try loading the site again, AlertBot says. Target’s increasingly infamous error message—placed next to a white dog with a target painted around one eye—also appeared: “woof! We are suddenly extremely popular. There is no need to refresh your browser. Please stay here and we'll get you in as soon as we can! Thank you and our apologies for the inconvenience."

AlertBot did not know why the site crashed today. “There's a vast number of reasons that could cause the problem so I can't really speculate,” the spokesman says. “What's odd this time is the different error pages.” He adds that if the last error message is indeed accurate—the one featuring the mascot dog and the apology about the site’s popularity—then that suggests Target.com’s network is overloaded.

The redesigned Target.com offers more product recommendations, better gift registries and improved graphics than the previous site. With the launch of the new site, the chain also ended its decade-long reliance on Amazon.com Inc.’s e-commerce platform.  The new Target site uses technology from such e-commerce service and technology providers as  IBM Corp. and Endeca Technologies Inc. AT&T hosts the site.

Target is No. 22 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Amazon is No. 1.


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