Network Performance Management is the Key to “Happy Holidays” for Retailers
by November 11, 2011

Filed under: Networking Technology, Performance Monitoring

Credit cards and debit cards– the life lines to our bank accounts. These slates of plastic are also the life lines for retail stores. These days, except when someone walks into a storefront and makes a purchase with cash, chances are that nearly every sale a retailer makes involves the Internet or an online transaction.

Online shopping and other forms of e-commerce constitute a growing percentage of holiday spending. E-retailers of all sizes need to prepare for a high volume of website visitors and transactions; they must ensure that downtime, performance issues or denial-of-service attacks don’t hurt their bottom line… or their business reputation.

Online Retail and Network Speed

With today’s advancing dependence on technology and the internet, holiday shopping rites put pressure not only on web servers, but also on point-of-sale (POS) and credit card processing systems at store locations. Retailers cannot afford stalled transaction processing on peak shopping days; and their customers won’t tolerate it!

On September 14, 2011, Target’s website crashed due to an overload of website visitors in conjunction with a new Missoni clothing line launch. The store created a sense of excitement and urgency to make shoppers aware and drive them to buy – all at the same time!  The result was highly effective with overrun stores and website visitors. Online buyers were knocking down the website’s door eager to buy, but tragically,  the network failure prevented Target from running transactions. Ouch.

E-commerce websites and POS devices are part of the customer’s experience, so outages or performance degradations can have a significantly negative impact and must be mitigated and resolved quickly.

How can you ensure that the precious network “pipes” supporting your website and POS terminals don’t get clogged with traffic at times of peak demand? How can you avoid becoming the  next Target website debacle? Simple: You need to be able to efficiently monitor, troubleshoot and manage the real-time performance of every network your business relies on, including VPNs, WANs and the public Internet. You need to know:

  • That you have a performance problem in the first place – hopefully before your customers tell you
  • Whether the problem resides on network, or the web server or some other link in the chain
  • What is causing the problem – bandwidth constraints, latency, packet loss, etc?
  • How to address the problem

Unfortunately, most individual retail locations doesn’t  have its own IT staff on hand. And even if they did, how can they manage the performance of the public Internet? (You might be asking these same questions if you’re an MSP tasked with supporting retail clients.) Standard web performance tools can tell you that delays are occurring, but not why they are occurring. Traditional SNMP-based network management tools focus on routers, switches and other network hardware, not IP-based applications.

Unlike these traditional solutions, PathView Cloud offers true network performance management, end-to-end, across any IP-based network, including the Internet. With PathView Cloud you can identify instantly whether the network is the cause of a performance problem.

Within minutes of deploying, you’ll start getting unmatched insight in your website’s performance from the site visitor’s point of view, so you’ll always know exactly how well the end-to-end network path is delivering your e-commerce experience to visitors.

Likewise, PathView Cloud is able to monitor the POS and credit card transactions taking place at your stores, even over “thin pipes.” Whether your transactions are going out over a LAN, WAN, MPLS, VPN and/or the Internet, you’ll know right away if KPIs related to bandwidth, packet loss, jitter or latency fall outside predefined acceptable limits, so you can take quick action.