Lots of people like to take their shots at Wal-Mart. Few knock it out like Elmo did Wednesday, when a crush of shoppers pursuing the giggling toy knocked walmart.com out briefly. But count on Wal-Mart to get the last laugh this holiday season.The outage was due to "incredibly high traffic"
, the company says, as the Elmo T.M.X. doll sold out in a matter of minutes. Wal-Mart says it has corrected the problem. Wal-Mart also had that dreaded too much traffic problem the Friday after Thanksgiving, when it blamed a 10-hour outage
on traffic hitting seven times last year's level, when it had only tested for double the traffic. That couldn't have been what Wal-Mart had in mind when it redesigned its site
Despite those embarrassments, the site's growing well this holiday season, ranking as the No. 4 shopping site behind Amazon.com, Dell, and Yahoo, comScore says. It's the third-fastest-growing e-retail site. The five fastest-growing nontravel sites--Best Buy, Ticketmaster, Walmart.com, Circuit City, and Victoria's Secret--all have multichannel strategies, not Web-only.
In that lies the bad news for those competing with Wal-Mart. It's big problem online this holiday season seems to be dealing with the traffic--not attracting it.