Walmart Crash/Amazon Crawl: Metrics and Insights

Two retail giants delivered lumps of coal for Christmas in July.  Amazon Prime celebrated 20 years with a huge marketing campaign promoting “Deals Bigger than Black Friday”. Walmart, not to be left out, announced its own special deals all week long with its #DareToCompare campaign.

We, at SynTraffic, got curious about website uptime and performance metrics as the clock approached midnight on July 14th 2015, just before the big sale day on July 15. Our analysis is based on publicly available data collected by SynTraffic RealTime Monitoring: Performance

Amazon’s website latency spike started at 10 PM UTC (chart below is in PST), two hours before the big sale, when Prime shoppers were planning their purchases. A lot of turbulence continued from midnight to 1 AM, which would have translated to an Amazon customer experience 3 to 4 times slower than normal. While this kind of performance was a serious issue, the good news was endured dramatically increased latency with no website crashes.

Amazon Real-Time Data (15 Jul 2015 as seen in PST)

SynTraffic Real-Time Data (15 Jul 2015 as seen in PST)

This trend was also reflected in the SynTraffic Daily Report of Amazon performance, in which website availability continued to stay strong while average response latency more than doubled.

Amazon Availability Report (15 Jul 2015 – 16 Jul 2015 UTC)

SynTraffic Availability Report

SynTraffic Availability Report

The good news was the website did not crash. The bad news was it disappointed Amazon Prime customers. Performance

The Walmart website response time slowed starting at 7:02 AM PST, as much as 15 seconds. started crashing at 7:05 AM (as indicated by error codes in red in the real time report below). The website was in a heap of trouble until performance seemed to stabilize at about 8:05 AM, one hour later.

Walmart Real-Time Report (15 Jul 2015 7:05 am PST – 8:05 am PST)

SynTraffic Real-time Report

SynTraffic Real-time Report

Here is a snapshot of Walmart’s daily report for 15 Jul 2015, where their availability took a serious beating – down to 91.0778%.

Walmart Availability Report (15 Jul 2015 – 16 Jul 2015 UTC)

SynTraffic Daily Report

SynTraffic Availability Report


As expected, users experienced the same and displayed their frustration on social media:Customer

The stakes are high for online retailer reputations and revenue when Amazon averages $80 million on a regular day. These lessons are challenging enough for giant, well-resourced corporations… just like it is for you and me.

Here are the 3 key takeaways:

  1. Performance KPIs: Plan and size your website and its underlying services to handle the surge in traffic from your upcoming marketing campaign. Validate by monitoring your performance KPI’s under load before your campaign goes live.
  2. Buffer Capacity: Plan for additional capacity for your competitor’s marketing campaign as well. If your competitor cannot handle their own increased traffic, you want capacity to accommodate their defecting customers.
  3. Slow with no Errors: Your customers will prefer a slow responding site to a crashing site. It is in your best interest to engineer your website to endure the load rather than crash under the weight of it.

How do you plan for your marketing campaigns? Please share your thoughts using the comments section below.

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