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Time is money: Hidden costs of website crashes

Retailers that have website outages risk losing substantial financial sums and suffering brand reputational damage. As e-commerce continues to command a larger slice of overall retail spend, there’s been no shortage of high profile companies in recent years, who have had catastrophic website crashes.

And the larger the company, the costlier the problem. In 2018, the world’s largest e-commerce retailer, Amazon, experienced an embarrassing crash for an hour during Prime Day, its largest annual sales event. Last year, Coles had a three-day outage after IT maintenance caused its website to crash. In 2019, Facebook suffered a major site outage, which also affected Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. The crash is estimated to have cost the company $90 million within the space of 14 hours.

Gartner says that based on industry surveys, network downtime can cost $5,600 per minute on average. This figure equates to well over $300K per hour. In other words, time is money.

With research firm eMarketer tipping e-commerce to hit the US$5 trillion mark by 2021, making sure investments made in online assets are working to their full potential is crucial for successful business growth and preventing online disasters.

“Businesses are now running 24/7 and even if they aren’t open 24/7, their websites and advertising are running 24/7,” says Dallas Clarke, managing director of Ekky Software.

“Making sure their websites are running 24/7 is important to capture and convert customers, and not just give the, ‘we’re not incompetent feeling’ to new customers.”

While there are several website monitoring services in use by major retailers across Australia, the individual platform is often tailored to specific requirements that don’t always match individual retailers. Clarke describes a typical scenario involving website downtime, citing a retailer with 70 physical locations as well as its online platform.

“One Sunday lunchtime, when the stores are fairly busy, and the head office staff were all home, the website crashed,” he says.

“As the IT manager was on holidays, it took over two hours for the staff to find the contact details for the managing director, who was finally able to contact their IT staff about 2.5 hours later.”

Effective website monitoring platforms, including ServerOwl, allow users to monitor multiple websites and also grant access for each website to multiple users, allowing teams of users to receive alert messages when problems are detected.

“With ServerOwl, all the IT staff are notified within a few minutes of a problem with the system, and can now often have the system back up and running before system users are even aware that there had been a problem,” says Clarke.

“Digital website monitoring also allows those nervous nellies to get a good night sleep. Silencing that persistent gnawing of that continual question – is the website still running?”.

More broadly, IT standards in Australia are generally poor, says Clarke, as retailers generally restrict investigations when there are publicly reported problems.

“Most businesses in Australia pay a premium for IT staff and are only often able to find inexperienced candidates,” adds Clarke. This predicament has been caused in part by a constant shortage of talent over the last two decades, where many local universities have trained masses of international students, who commence their IT careers in Australia before returning home overseas.

“It has meant that many local businesses are forced to hire graduate level staff, because of the difficulty of finding quality experienced staff.”

Start your free 3 month trial of Ekky Software’s website monitoring platform by visiting

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