Techworld

Click Frenzy host shifts blame for website crash

Traffic was '“many times what the customer forecasted for,” said UltraServe CEO Samuel Yeats.

The creators of Click Frenzy failed to anticipate how much traffic would hit its website at the launch of the Australian online shopping event, according the website’s hosting company, UltraServe.

Power Retail, the event’s sponsor, had pitched the event as “Australia’s answer to Cyber Monday.” But a flood of traffic took down the Click Frenzy website a few minutes after the sale opened at 7pm (AEDT) last night. “ClickFail” soon became a popular hash on Twitter.

The number of users that accessed the website at opening were “many times what the customer forecasted for,” UltraServe CEO Samuel Yeats told Computerworld Australia. Click Frenzy expected 1 million users over the entire 24-hour period, he said.

“There were millions of requests in the first two minutes,” amassing 2 Gbps of “dynamic content, excluding images that actually make up most of the bandwidth,” he said.

In the hours before the event, UltraServe saw 20,000 registrations per minute, Yeats said. The total user registrations grew by 500,000 in the one day leading up to the sale, he said.

UltraServe responded by more than doubling capacity of the Click Frenzy website, Yeats said. Service was restored between 9:30pm and 10pm.

“The site has been fully functional since,” and Yeats does not expect any more problems, he said. “The average page load time is two or three seconds.”

Click Frenzy is now directing so much traffic to retailers that “other retailers’ sites have been going off air,” he said. “A lot of the deals are getting sold out and sales are going through the roof.”

“Yes, we understand the inconvenience to consumers in the first couple of hours ... but it’s been going really well since.”

Click Frenzy founder Grant Arnott apologised for last night’s Web problems in a statement released on the Click Frenzy Facebook page last night.

“I would like to issue an apology to anyone who has been inconvenienced and frustrated by the technical issues relating to the inaugural Click Frenzy 24 hour online sale,” Arnott said.

Click Frenzy anticipated concerns that the frenzy might overload servers. Before the problems occurred, a question on the website’s FAQ page asked, “Will your servers crash?”

“We sure hope not!” answered Click Frenzy. “We know there will be enormous volumes of visitors during Click Frenzy, particularly during the early part of the event, but we have taken every precaution to ensure our servers will not go down, and we have advised our retailers of the traffic volumes they should expect.”

Lessons for retailers

Individual retailers’ websites “held up fairly well under the intense pressure from the Click Frenzy promotion,” Australian National Retailers Association CEO Margy Osmand said

“Mad Monday is a common internet shopping experience overseas and sites regularly crash, so some initial wobbles were to be expected.”

Problems aside, the retailers association views the consumer demand as good news for the holiday shopping season in Australia.

“It is good to see so much interest in Christmas shopping a month out from the big day, we hope this is a reflection on Aussie’s appetite for Christmas retailing,” Osmand said. It’s “even better” because the traffic is directed to online stores in Australia, not overseas, she said.

The Click Frenzy experience “is a real wake-up as to the consumer demand in Australia for shopping via their computers and digital devices,” said Hybris managing director, Graham Jackson.

Hybris provides multichannel commerce software that supports Target and several other Australian retailers’ websites.

Target’s online store stayed open through the sale with visits from 70,000 customers in the first hour, according to The Australian.

“There is always an investment decision to be made in consideration of the capacity of your various web stores, and if the majority or retailers are now appreciating that it is vital to invest in both an enterprise class ecommerce platform, as well as infrastructure underneath capable of handling really very large volumes, then Click Frenzy will have done an important job,” Jackson said.

“Unfortunately there are too many retail sites running ecommerce platforms that don’t scale well, and infrastructure that does not have the capacity to deal with spikes in traffic than can be 50 [times] an average day.”

Osmand said that individual retailers’ websites “held up well under the pressure” and that the retailers do not manage the Click Frenzy website.

“Australian retailers have made significant investment in their digital offering to best meet the needs of Aussie shoppers,” she said.

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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Tags Australiaonline shoppingClickfailfailserver crashClick FrenzytrafficoutageClickFrenzyAustralian National Retailers AssociationCyber Mondayretail

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