Downtime for the World’s Top-50 E-Commerce Websites

This report looks at the website availability (uptime) of the world’s 50 biggest online retailers during a week long period May 19–26, 2016. This is a follow-up piece to the already published “Web Performance of the World’s Top 50 E-Commerce Sites” on Pingdom’s blog, where we dive into load time, sizes, and all that good stuff.

Why high availability is important to e-commerce websites

High availability is important to all websites, and e-commerce websites are no exception. B2C e-commerce sales worldwide is expected to reach $1.92 trillion in 2016. So if anything, e-commerce website owners should pay extraattention as the websites are not only an important source of information, but the source of income for the companies themselves.

Here are some of the reasons why website uptime really matters to online retailers:

  • Lost sales — According to a post by Kissmetrics, 73% of mobile internet users say they’ve encountered a website that was too slow to load. And 38% say they’ve encountered a website that wasn’t available. Needless to say, if a site is down, 100% of the site visitors are turned away. That’s pretty much the equivalent of locking the door to your store.
  • Lost customers — Studies show that 9 out of 10 website visitors would switch to a competitor’s website if a company’s website fails to load. With this in mind, the effect of frequent outages can be extremely detrimental to a company.
  • Global user base — There simply isn’t a time when consumers aren’t shopping online. Downtime at 5 a.m. on the US East Coast may not bother most American site visitors, but that is 11 a.m. in central Europe, and 9 p.m. in Sydney, Australia.
  • Time-critical service — When a customer visits the website to purchase items it is very possible that this customer only has a limited time to do so. If the website is down, this becomes a real problem.
  • Reputation — Visiting any website and finding it down — or not fully functioning — is never a good experience, and often creates frustration. The more frequently this happens, the more this will affect the reputation of the retailer. But also, if Google and other search engines can’t find your website, they’d rather de-index it than keep sending visitors to a dead end.

Key findings

There are a lot of observations to be made when analyzing the data from the uptime monitoring we performed during the week this survey took place. Here are some of the key findings for e-commerce websites.

  • The average uptime for the entire group of websites was 99.03% which over the monitored time period accounts for an accumulated downtime of 1 hour and 40 minutes. Over a year, 99.03% uptime would result in 3 days 15 hours and 39 minutes of downtime.
  • 32 websites had a 99.99% uptime or better.
  • Among the websites that ended up below a 99.8% uptime, frequent short
    outages were the most common problem.

Uptime distribution chart

This is the distribution of the 50 e-commerce websites, sorted into uptime percentiles. Websites in the 99.9% pile are sites between 99.90–99.99% while 99.8% is 99.80–99.89% etc. For more information about how much downtime these percentages involve, you can use the Pingdom downtime conversion cheat sheet.


Downtime chart

We detected downtime with 18 of the 50 tested websites, and this is the accumulated amount of downtime for each of those websites:

It’s worth mentioning that even though Ticketmaster finished our survey with a staggering 56.27% uptime during a week, they were never down for more than 6 minutes at a time.

Edit: In the curious case of Ticketmaster, one has to question whether they have one or more of our servers blocked. Or if they’re under constant hits by bots clogging up the service, and therefor are down — albeit brief as a second — one minute because of the monitoring interval.

The longest continuous outages

Most of the websites suffered from frequent, short periods of downtime and 6 of the 50 websites had at least one outage lasting in excess of 5 minutes.

Conclusion

While many of the websites we tested performed admirably (just look how many ended up with more than 99.9% uptime or better), the average uptime across the 50 e-commerce websites was significantly below the overall average uptime. This is surprising, considering that these are websites with massive resources.

Methodology

All the monitoring was done using the Pingdom uptime monitoring service, which tests sites from multiple locations in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.

All monitoring was done by loading the homepage for each website.

Tests were performed every minute, around the clock, between May 19–May 26, 2016.