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BizReport : Ecommerce : November 27, 2006

Heavy Traffic Weighs Down Wal-Mart Website

Wal-Mart’s website suffered from visitor overload on Black Friday, causing it to shut its virtual doors for a large portion of the day.

by Helen Leggatt


While many of the big stores experienced high traffic and a small amount of disruption, even shut down for 15 minutes, Wal-Mart came out the worst hit.

Linda Blakley, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, said, "Due to a higher-than-anticipated traffic surge, we made the decision to shut down the site temporarily. The site is open for business and the problem resolved."

Wal-Mart's problems began early in the day. At 4.30am EST visitors were already experiencing blank pages and delays. By midday a virtual sign was tacked to their virtual door advising people to “come back later”. Not a great start to the holiday season for the 21st most popular website in the U.S.. By 2.00pm the site was up and running again, but with a noticeable delay.'s problems began at around 11.00am EST when they offered the first 1,000 customers to buy an Xbox a bargain price of $100, compared to the usual retail price of around $300. The Xbox sold out in 29 seconds.

“We saw dramatically more traffic than what we anticipated,’’ Amazon spokesman Craig Berman said on Friday.

Ben Rushlo, senior manager of competitive research at Keynote Systems Inc., said retailers get better each year bracing for the volumes, but they also make their sites increasingly complex, adding 360-degree views of products and other features. Nonetheless, with the exception of Wal-Mart, online retailers were generally performing well.

"There were a few glitches here and there, minor problems," Rushlo said.

Tags: Black Friday, traffic, Wal-Mart

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