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Internet Retailer

How ABCVacuumWarehouse.com assures customers are seeing page content

October 23, 2003, Internet Retailer

Having web servers up is no guarantee that customers are viewing content they can act on. Retailers need a deeper view of their web site's performace, says Richard Baccus, owner of ABCVacuumWarehouse.com, the online business of Austin, TX-based cataloger and store operator ABC Vacuum Warehouse Inc.

"Sometimes a server can be fine, it's technically up, but page text is not showing because a hard drive is locked up or there is some other problem," he tells InternetRetailer.com.

ABC Vacuum Warehouse uses U.S. Internet to monitor its web servers to assure they're running 24/7. But as a fail-safe measure, it also uses WebSitePulse.com, a unit of Image Project Inc., to assure that page content is available to viewers. "We use this extra fail-safe system because this lets us know that our web site is actually operating properly," Baccus says.

The monitoring system is helping ABC Vacuum Warehouse's online operations, which launched in 1996, maintain steady growth in sales that now surpass $4 million a year, Baccus says.

WebSitePulse constantly monitors ABCVacuumWarehouse.com and sends text message alerts to Baccus's cell phone if it finds pages not showing content. Although ABC Vacuum Warehouse operates additional web sites, including a scaled-down ABCVacuum.com with fewer shopping options, it uses WebSitePulse only for monitoring the more complex ABCVacuumWarehouse.com. The latter site provides more sophisticated search and navigation features that rely on data being pulled from multiple databases, requiring the extra monitoring service to assure page content appears as expected, he says.

But the monitoring services don't replace direct inspection of his web operations, Baccus adds. For example, he stays in constant communication with WebSitePulse to make sure it doesn't reboot his servers for maintenance purposes at crucial periods of customer activity. "Sometimes IT guys are more bent on getting their job done and don't consider how it affects our e-commerce business," he says. "We don't want them rebooting during peak shopping at 7 p.m."

In cases where a reboot is necessary during an unexpected time, he adds, WebSitePulse will alert him so that he'll know why orders were down during that time.