Booming Cyber Monday Boosts Mass. E-Retailers

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Massachusetts e-commerce businesses are getting a lift from record Cyber Monday traffic.

And local companies are doing everything possible to capitalize. For instance, is offering free shipping on everything. The Jamaica Plain streetwear retailer Karmaloop hired racy webcam women to put an edge on its bid for bigger sales. And Dancing Deer Baking Company in Hyde Park is giving each customer 30 percent off.

"This Cyber Monday we’re already seeing peak traffic," said Lelah Manz, with the online traffic platform Akamai. The Cambridge firm smooths Internet traffic for some of the biggest e-retailers, including Staples, which ranks second nationally behind Amazon.

Manz said so far Monday, e-commerce sites were handling what is on track to be record business with fewer problems than last year.

"They’re less catastrophic," Manz said. "You’re finding less sites down entirely. And more that they may have just problems in certain areas of their sites."

"We lovingly call it 'The Crush'," said Matt Lauzon, CEO of Gemvara, a downtown Boston e-commerce company that lets people design their own jewelry to purchase. And it’s not just handling all the shopping traffic; Gemvara’s servers have to process all the 3-D rendering that goes with every customization.

The company’s website got a welcome stress test from Oprah last week, who gave away Gemvara earrings as one of her “favorite things.”

The company’s servers handled that traffic, and Monday's, too. Cyber Monday is looking like the biggest sales day of the year for the firm. Lauzon said all the infrastructure work is paying off. In fact, when I spoke with him, that wasn't his biggest concern.

"The more taxing effort for us has been ramping up customer care," he said. "We try to talk to as many customers as possible by phone, email, live-chat, that we actually wind up having a ton of people throughout the company get involved one way or the other to support that."

Including him. After all, e-retailers are still in retail.

The high-traffic test is far from over, though. Cyber Monday used to be when people used their high-speed Internet connections at work to shop. Now, most have that at home.

Akamai expects North American e-commerce traffic to peak around 9 p.m. Monday night, at more than 8 million page views per minute.

This program aired on November 26, 2012.

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Curt Nickisch Business & Technology Reporter
Curt Nickisch was formerly WBUR's business and technology reporter.



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