This Thanksgiving weekend, I decided to do a small experiment and monitor a couple of department stores and e-retailers on Black Friday to see how well their websites behaved. I decided to check the main page availability for these sites, starting Thursday evening when the Black Friday shopping burst began, using monitoring agents in San Antonio and Chicago, as well as other sites around the world. The startling conclusion I came to is that very few of these randomly selected websites were ready for Black Friday - and those that weren't lost significant revenue as a result.

Let's dive deeper into two of these websites (names have been obscured to protect the guilty!)

Site 1 - A large well-known department store.

Here is the availability and performance information measured from Chicago and San Antonio:

As you can see the site was starting to see response time problems around 7pm and again around 9pm. The severity of the problem increased to the point that the site was not available. In Foglight, we were getting the following alerts:

Site 2 - A popular e-retail website

This site had serious availability issues between midnight and 3am.

We were seeing error 503 (service unavailable) from ALL sites.

As well as this alarm in Foglight:

These examples illustrate why it is crucial to monitor website performance and availability on a regular basis: to catch errors and slowdowns that can resurface, magnified, during the holiday sales season. Not being sufficiently prepared is costly. It impacts your brand loyalty and directly results in lost revenue for the business.