In Online Retail, the Route to Success is Not Always the Closest One


A 100ms delay in page load time can reduce online sales by 1 percent. One solution: intelligent DNS technology.

In the early days of the internet, online map services had wide popularity. You simply entered your location and desired destination, and a map with turn by turn instructions appeared on your screen, ready for printing. This worked well – unless of course the route was impossibly slow due to an accident, or road construction, or it turned out the restaurant you wanted to go to was overcrowded. Now of course, navigation systems are far more sophisticated. Rather than rely on static maps, they are dynamically updated with all the current information needed to get you to your destination as quickly as possible.

Today, the capability to improve the online shopping experience is available to online retailers in much the same way as modern GPS has transformed the experience of motorists.

If your online business operates beyond a local scale, it is likely that your website is actually made up of multiple sites. To serve a large, geographically dispersed audience, your business needs many points of presence on the internet, just as the large brick-and-mortar retailer needs many store locations. This brings us to the question of how users actually find your site.

They do it by relying on a behind-the-scenes bit of technology, one that was born soon after the internet emerged. When a user clicks on a link to your site, their PC, smartphone or other mobile device queries the domain name system (DNS) to find your site’s IP address. DNS delivers the IP address, and the device connects. This all happens automatically and typically within a couple of seconds.

How DNS operates

It’s important to understand the decision process DNS goes through before it sends users to one of your many internet storefronts. Traditional DNS services operate more or less in the mode of MapQuest and other similar web mapping services. They know where the user is located and send them to the internet store location that is the closest geographically. The DNS may also be able to check if the site is currently in operation. This is adequate most of the time.

But not all of the time. The internet is dynamic and occasionally volatile. The internet route to the closest geographic location may be congested and slow. User demand is highly variable. There may be heavy demand from users located in the eastern United States while relatively few users are coming from the West. Rather than overload your East coast data centers and slow down the shopping experience for many users, wouldn’t it be better to send some users to the lightly loaded, west coast locations?  Summarizing, what if the DNS had more information, including:

  • How many customers are currently being served at each location?
  • What capacity is available at each location to serve incoming customers?
  • Which of your locations is closest in “internet time” to each user trying to get to your ecommerce store?

Intelligent DNS

If your DNS had this information, your customers would get to your site more quickly on average, and would get faster service once they got there.

That is what today’s intelligent DNS is able to do, and the impact on business is significant. Many studies have shown the positive effect that better performance has on ecommerce sales:

  • Amazon discovered that every 100ms delay in page load time reduced sales by one percent
  • The Aberdeen Group found that one quarter of users will abandon a web application after just a three-second delay
  • Intuit realized a conversion increase of three percent for every one-second improvement in page load time

As an online retailer, you’ve made significant investments in the look of your site and making the checkout process easy and frictionless. You spend money advertising your ecommerce business and driving traffic to it. It makes sense to get the most from these investments by leveraging advanced traffic management services from an intelligent DNS. These services are not costly nor are they difficult for IT teams to adopt. So ask your IT team: Are you giving your customers a Mapquest or a Waze online shopping experience?


Use cases: customer experience management

Industry insights: retail and ecommerce

Jonathan Lewis

About Jonathan Lewis

Jonathan Lewis, vice president of product at NS1 has over 25 years of experience in the IT industry in a career comprising product management, product marketing, customer service and systems engineering roles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *