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Katie Tregurtha
Posted by
Katie Tregurtha on
September 27, 2022
Industry News & Trends

Why Retailers Are at Risk of a Network Outage on Black Friday

And What to Do About It

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Over the past few years, outages and downtime have become a commonplace part of the peak holiday shopping season - and the consequences have only grown as e-commerce overtakes brick-and-mortar in popularity.

In 2019, for example, Costco experienced website issues throughout the day that set the company back an estimated $11 million in sales alone - not even accounting for damages to brand reputation and customer satisfaction.

So what’s causing this increase in outages during the holiday season, and what steps can you take to minimize the likelihood your company will experience one?


1 in 4 shoppers will now abandon their cart if the site takes more than 4 seconds to load.

Why Outages and Performance Issues Are on the Rise for E-Commerce Sites

Online Shopping Traffic is Surging - and Pushing Your Infrastructure to the Brink

In recent years, holiday shopping has increasingly moved from in-stores to online. By 2019, for example, more shoppers went online than visited physical stores - a trend that was accelerated in 2020 and 2021 by the pandemic, and is expected to continue.Without the right infrastructure investments and planning, this surge in traffic can cause performance issues and downtime - and at this point, your audience has zero tolerance for even minor lags. This magnifies the business impact of even the smallest snafus; for example, 1 in 4 shoppers will now abandon their cart if the site takes more than 4 seconds to load.

Your Infrastructure Has Single Points of Failure

Even if you’ve made the move to cloud-based infrastructure, service provider outages are inevitable. If you are dependent upon one CDN provider, for example, an outage or performance issues on their end can bring down your entire online presence.

Building redundancy into your infrastructure can help you ensure continuity; however, set up incorrectly, redundant systems can actually introduce more complexity and leave you open to other issues.

Your IT Infrastructure is Increasingly Complex

Redundant infrastructure, an exploding number of devices and applications to manage, legacy infrastructure - for all these reasons and more, your IT infrastructure is now increasingly challenging to manage. And without the right precautions, complex infrastructure is brittle infrastructure. Configuration issues can bring down the whole system crashing down - and every second of downtime counts during peak holiday shopping periods.

How can E-Commerce Sites Avoid Performance Issues and Downtime?

True Infrastructure Redundancy with Automated Failover Mechanisms

To get the full benefits of building out redundant infrastructure, make sure you build in automated failover and disaster recovery mechanisms. This enables you to automatically redirect traffic seamlessly to a healthy endpoint if another is experiencing issues. Your application delivery environment can change quickly, and without automated routing policies you are still vulnerable to outages or downtime.

Wayfair, for example, has invested in redundancy in their key IT infrastructure - and most importantly, has built in automated failover mechanisms to seamlessly steer traffic if one of their providers experiences an outage. During a massive CDN outage in 2021, they experienced no downtime or performance issues, due to automated failover mechanisms they had put in place.

Grubhub follows a similar philosophy. When designing infrastructure, they focus on ensuring there is no single point of failure within any of their systems - and relentlessly stress test this approach. Their investments paid off - in 2020, when many people switched to takeout to comply with stay-at-home orders, Grubhub’s sales went up 68% year-over-year. They avoided issues due to the fact that they had designed their back-end infrastructure to automatically scale to accommodate massive growth.


Get a Deeper Dive into Improving Network Resilience

Download our eBook to learn more

Look for DNS Providers with the Capacity to Absorb Traffic Spikes - Whether from Good or Bad Sources

There’s a reason why “it’s always DNS” is a popular saying among IT professionals: as the backbone of the internet, DNS issues can bring down your websites, applications, and even access to your physical office buildings. Using a Managed DNS provider can help you avoid configuration issues through seamless integrations with the tools your developers are already using.

They can also help you avoid downtime by having the sheer capacity to absorb surges in traffic to your website - whether that’s from a DDoS attack, or a particularly successful marketing campaign during the holiday shopping season.

Learn more by checking out our on-demand webinar, "It's Always DNS: Why Outages Are Growing More Common, and What You Can Do About it."

How Does NS1 Help E-Commerce Companies Improve Overall Network Resilience?

Massive capacity and guaranteed uptime

We have a 100% uptime SLA. Whether your traffic is coming from good or malicious sources, we have the capacity to handle it - we handle 1 million queries per second on a slow day.

Automated, intelligent traffic steering to optimize for performance and cost

Additionally, powerful, dynamic traffic steering through NS1’s patented Filter Chain technology enables teams to route traffic among multiple clouds or CDNs to accommodate traffic spikes or divert traffic to available resources in the event a provider is experiencing problems. And since NS1 integrates with leading observability and monitoring tools such as AppDynamics, ThousandEyes, and Datadog, you can detect - and then avoid - outages in real-time.

Redundancy via Dedicated DNS

The need for redundant infrastructure doesn’t just apply to CDNs. Yet implementing a fully redundant DNS system can introduce complexity, leaving you vulnerable to other errors and issues.

NS1 offers Dedicated DNS - a physically separate DNS network that is fully synchronized and managed from the same control plane as your primary DNS. Learn more about how Dedicated DNS improves overall network resilience here.


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