Get Close to Your E-Customer

FRAMINGHAM (04/10/2000) - Great e-commerce site performance may not help at the customer end, explains Paul Scarpa, a senior analyst at The Yankee Group, a Boston-based market research firm. The Internet itself can be a significant bottleneck.

When a customer on the East Coast requests something from a server on the West Coast, the number of connections the request makes along the way and the traffic it encounters are beyond the control of the e-commerce company.

Top commerce sites speed site performance these days by literally moving some pieces closer geographically to customers, says Walt Smith, chief engineer at iXL Inc., an e-commerce consulting firm in Atlanta. As incoming orders arrive from the different server locations, they're integrated off-line.

Companies like Akamai Technologies and Digital Island Inc. in San Francisco use local servers to reduce the distance that content travels over the network.

However, as Scarpa points out, once an e-commerce site introduces a degree of personalization, caching content becomes much more difficult, if not technically impossible.

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