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28Sep2012

Website Traffic Control – Positive or Negative?

  • By Kevin Hauge
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As I was about to check our online wedding registry at Macys.com, I experienced something I hadn’t seen before: a temporary shopping jam.

Sorry, shoppers! We’re currently experiencing heavier traffic than normal. To make sure everyone gets the best shopping experience possible, we’re asking new shoppers to wait approximately¬†10¬†seconds, and then we’ll refresh your browser and welcome you in.

Thanks for your patience!

Since I have worked with multiple online retailers, I understand the vast increase of traffic that can cripple a server’s performance during peak shopping periods (like Christmas). However, this was a mid-afternoon in early September. Strange that there would be such a spike in traffic that the server would not be able to handle it.

I waited patiently as the “site governor” counted down from 10 to refresh my browser to (maybe) let me into the website. Unfortunately it took 3 refresh periods before I was allowed into the website. Not too big of a problem for me (as I simply opened a new tab to continue my productivity in a new window while I was waiting in the virtual line). However, I started to wonder if other visitors would have the same understanding?

While no hosting server can guarantee absolutely no downtime or prevent occasional slow performance, all businesses (and shoppers) would hope they are extremely limited. Was this occurrence just a fluke during a server glitch or have companies decided that a 24/7 accessible online presence isn’t as vital anymore?

If you received a message to “wait in line” to visit a retail website (or call their store as Macy’s offers as an alternative), how would you react? Would you wait it out and accept the fact that the website is busy and you’ll be let in when it’s your turn? Or is being told that the current visitors of the website have priority over you going to send you elsewhere?

Personally, I believe the system they have set up is a positive way to handle the unforeseen spikes in traffic … but if it were an issue that remained unaddressed over multiple occasions, I (as a consumer) would probably move onto the next retailer.

What are your thoughts?

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