In the digital world, performance, availability, and reliability are key pillars of business that can impact revenue, reputation, and operational excellence. We often write about the impact that third-party services have on performance on our blog, but sometimes that impact is felt in our personal lives as well.
Every year, we monitor major retailers’ performance and availability during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, testing to capture the inevitable failures and outages as traffic volumes climb to record highs. This year, however, most of these retailers did amazingly well and I am very happy for them.
The few glitches that did occur were, yet again, due to some third-party element, whether it be a tracking beacon, a picture enhancement service, a social tag, etc.
Most of these retailers have been preparing for the past six to nine months for this year’s holiday shopping season. They know what / how / where to invest in their infrastructure based on their own data such as YoY pageviews growth, YoY unique users, and more.
On the other hand, third-party services also need to scale during this time, but their input is different:
If my tag is present on 100 websites and each of those websites will see a traffic surge of 10X, then I need to be able to scale by 1000X!
And that is the fundamental issue! Therefore, most of the third parties that fail during the busy holidays are caught off guard by the sheer volume of traffic emanating from the sites hosting those tags.
Below is an example of a third party social tag on an ecommerce site on 11/24/2016:
A recent experience I had with Amazon demonstrates that the impact of a third party is not limited to online. The incident went something like this:
· I ordered a backpack on December 4th with a target delivery of Dec 4 (gotta love that Amazon same day delivery).
· Dec 4: nothing
· Dec 5: nothing
· Dec 6: nothing
· Dec 7: I gave up. However, I must say that Amazon Customer Service was amazing and very apologetic.
So Amazon used a third party for shipping, (a company I have never heard of) Dynamex, and I would bet that they were not prepared to deal with the volume of traffic, business, boxes, and everything else that Amazon was sending. Package lost!
As a result, my experience was impacted, my perception of the Amazon brand declined just because they decided not to use Fedex, UPS, or USPS to ensure reliable service.
The Amazon website loaded super fast, the site was available, and the checkout a breeze, but the end result was still negative, all because of a third party!