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Black Friday and Cyber Monday RUM Insights - Part I

At Akamai, we see A LOT of traffic through our platform and when our customers get busy, we get busy! With the introduction of our free Real User Monitoring (or "RUM") tool, our customers get insight into their end-users' actual experiences across all kinds of connectivity situations. We have published a report around US shopping trends already to analyse user behaviour by device used during the busy retail period and especially Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The holiday season is an important time of year for all retailers to increase revenues, with shoppers looking for those end of year bargains. With shoppers in a ready state to buy it is essential that any retail website performs well in the face of the significant and sudden influx of extra traffic. A site that does not perform well will lead to frustrated users, resulting in higher rates of abandonment and lower conversions and revenues. With all of today's web enabled devices users conduct their shopping from multiple devices in any convenient location. In order to guarantee optimal experience for ALL users retailers must first understand the performance for all user situations when accessing their website.

The following data is taken from key retail customers in our RUM database for the USA only and provides more detail on the performance trends we have seen this year.

Traffic trends vs. performance across different device types

All US Data
The following observations can be made about the data from all device types collected:

  • 100% jump in traffic on Black Friday compared to the previous Friday
  • Thanksgiving evening was almost as busy as the Black Friday Morning
  • Median page load times, despite these peaks, remained consistent around five seconds
overall.JPG Windows devices

The following observations can be made about the data from all Windows devices:

  • 100% increase on Black Friday & Cyber Monday compared with the previous week
  • The morning of Cyber Monday was actually busier than Black Friday
  • Black Friday peak was in the morning and the evening was relatively quiet
  • Much less traffic on Thanksgiving compared to Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • Median page load times remained consistent
windows.JPG
iPad

The following observations can be made about the data from iPads:

  • Nearly 200% increase in traffic on Thanksgiving
  • Thanksgiving was the busiest day, especially the evening
  • Black Friday traffic peaked in the morning and then again slightly lower in the evening
  • Cyber Monday peaked in the evening
ipad.JPG
iPhone

The following observations can be made about the data from iPhones:

  • 200% increase in traffic on Thanksgiving
  • Thanksgiving evening was by far the busiest period
  • Cyber Monday hardly peaked
  • Median page load times remained relatively consistent but there were two peaks correlating to Thanksgiving and Black Friday
iphone.JPG
Mac

The following observations can be made about the data from Mac devices:

  • 200% increase in traffic on Black Friday & Cyber Monday
  • Mac usage peaked on the morning of Black Friday and the evening of Cyber Monday
  • Median page load times remained very consistent
mac.JPG
Android

The following observations can be made about the data from Android devices:

  • 150% traffic increase on Thanksgiving
  • Peak traffic was seen Thanksgiving evening
  • Cyber Monday data was smaller and peaked in the evening
  • Performance stayed relatively consistent but small spiked could be seen on Thanksgiving and Black Friday
android.JPG
Traffic Trend Wrap up

Looking at these traffic trends we can see that median performance stayed consistent during traffic peaks which is great. Mobile devices saw slight degradation during the biggest spikes which show potential areas of improvement. This could have been caused by poor network connectivity due to saturation, in which case retailers should look to tailor content based on network conditions, not just device.

There also seems to be a clear trend showing mobile device (including iPad) usage peaking on Thanksgiving. This could point towards users researching deals the day before a sale on a convenient device, or some retailers announcing early flash sales and users getting online on the device closest to hand. What is clear is that the holiday sale season is popular across all device types but users are using specific devices at different times. Understanding this behaviour should be a priority for retailers to make best use of their resources and target customers accordingly.

In the second part of this blog post, we will look to compare the performance of different device types against each other and investigate whether this is contributing to the shopping trends we see have seen above.

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