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Dress like Rihanna

Last week saw the release of Rihanna's second range of clothes for retailer, River Island.  Officially launched in store on Thursday 12th September, there was much hype about the new garments; especially after the success of her maiden release in spring 2013. With this is mind, we were interested to see if the River Island website would be affected by eager punters wanting to get the Rihanna look.

We decided to use our application to monitor the performance of the River Island website during the week of the launch. Readers of this blog will know that we are monitoring the performance of numerous websites, including River Island and other retailers. Throughout our monitoring this year, the average response time of the home page has been 2.40 seconds. However, on the launch day, it slowed down to 3.92 seconds. Looking in more detail, as demonstrated by our graph below, we saw that response times slowed significantly between 9.45 and 10.30am as well as later in the evening. At times it took 90 seconds to access the page whilst its average page speed during the peak period was 27.3 seconds.

We also monitored the Rihanna products page. The average response time of that page was 4.46 seconds, however it was interesting to note that there was a slowdown mirroring that of the homepage. During the same window of 9.45 to 10.30am, the Rihanna product page average speed was 26.52 seconds and at one point we were unable to get a response from the site. We have continued to monitor this particular page and it is now 2.46 seconds.  

It is highly likely, that the primary reason for the slowdowns was a lot load on the site. Several of the items online have now sold out and whilst I am no fashionista, I am led to believe that this range is very popular. With this is mind, it is easy to conclude that that website slowed down due to "eager buyers".  

In the days leading up to 12th September date, customers were able to purchase their Rihanna gear online and before the official in store launch. This may have stopped a mass influx of shoppers on the River Island website on the 12th, despite this, their site experienced big slow downs during peak periods, particularly on 12th September.

Although the average response time was two seconds slower on the launch day than usual, this doesn't tell the whole story. At 3.92 seconds, whilst it could be better, it’s not completely unacceptable, especially bearing in mind the popularity of the items on sale. Despite this, we noticed some response times that were significantly higher than this, some pages took over 1 minute to return to our monitoring tool at peak times, this is likely to have reduced the likelihood of browsers turning into purchasers.

With magnitude of the star and the proximity of the Christmas selling period, this launch was extremely important for River Island as well as a potential "banana skin". With the eyes of the fashion world and eager shoppers on them, their website could have easily failed. Thankfully for River Island it didn’t, but they'd be wise to monitor its performance closely and consider the potential implications of future failures.

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