Walmart.com follows Amazon with outages

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s walmart.com online store suffered outages Wednesday, two days after online retail giant Amazon.com Inc.'s Web site faced significant performance problems.

AlertSite.com, a company that monitors Web site performance and uptime, was unable to access the Wal-Mart Web site (www.walmart.com) from its seven monitoring locations in the U.S. at three different times Wednesday morning Eastern Standard Time, said Ken Godskind, the company's marketing vice president.

Walmart.com spokeswoman Amy Colella acknowledged walmart.com experienced availability problems Wednesday morning, but she characterized them as "minor issues" that affected the site briefly and have since been resolved. "We confirmed that customer transactions weren't affected, and the site is now up and running," she said.

She declined to be more specific about what caused the problem, which she described as "isolated."

AlertSite, based in Boca Raton, Fla., checks Web sites every 15 minutes from the U.S. locations and walmart.com was unavailable from all monitoring locations at 9:37 a.m. , 10:07 a.m. and 10:22 a.m., Godskind said. However, it was available from all seven locations when checked at 9:52 a.m., he said.

AlertSite determines that a Web page is unavailable if it takes more than 30 seconds to download. AlertSite issued a report on the walmart.com performance problems Wednesday.

Based on various performance measurements, walmart.com was sluggish for the rest of the morning until around 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, when the site's performance regained normal levels, he said. For example, between 11 a.m. and 11:50 a.m., it took an average of almost 11 seconds for walmart.com to download, when the normal average is between three and four seconds, according to the AlertSite report.

Checks by two IDG News Service service staffers in two different U.S. locations at around 3:40 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. EST found walmart.com unavailable. Several minutes later the site seemed to be working normally again.

The performance problems at walmart.com seem much less serious than the ones that affected Amazon's Web site Monday. Godskind said.

Sluggishness or outages at online storefronts are critical for online retailers, particularly during the holiday season, hurting not only sales volume but also customer satisfaction and confidence.

The AlertSite monitoring locations are in Boca Raton; Fremont, Calif.; Seattle; Washington; Chicago; Dallas; and New York.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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