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Petopia, Fireclick Resolve World Wide Wait

It's a dog-eat-dog world out there -- especially in the competitive e-commerce world of pet-related products.

During a time when many a dot-com operation is falling by the wayside, Petopia.com remains competitive because of its strong focus on improving the site's performance, according to Jeremy King, chief Web officer.

"This is a very competitive marketplace," King said. "Eight months ago we began to look at ways to enhance the performance of our site and we identified a particular problem: 60- to 70 percent of our customers are using dial-up modems. With a 56K connection to their ISPs, the customers were getting bottlenecked. Each page of the site took about 15 to 30 to seconds to come up. We knew this needed to be improved."

King's goal was to boost performance by implementing an extremely fast server without compromising the quality of the site's graphics. "We examined several content caching services and selected Fireclick's Blueflame, which has an accelerated content delivery algorithm," he said. "Now, our pages come up in seconds -- it is as quick as pressing the 'back' button. In fact, our site was recently credited by Internet World for being twice as fast as a leading competitor."

Using real-time click-stream analysis, Blueflame continually primes the browser cache one step ahead of the next mouse click, explained Steve O'Brien, vice president of marketing for Fireclick.

"This accelerates content directly to the end users desktop," he said. "Our technology continually primes the browser cache. By downloading 'most-likely' page elements directly to a user's browser path, Blueflame reduces average download times from 20 seconds to just one second. This is a definite enhancement to a Web users experience."

The product takes advantage of previously under-utilized bandwidth. "Online consumers consume bandwidth only when they request a Web page download," said O'Brien. "During page-views, modems set idle. Blueflame, which is transparent to the end user, retrieves the next-most-likely page views during these idle times, which converts waiting time to productive time."

Ecommerce sites stand a better chance of survival when consumers are satisfied with their shopping experience, observed Darcey Fowkes, research director for the Aberdeen Group, an industry research firm. "Consumers are less frustrated when waiting time is diminished, making the experience more fulfilling," she said. "Web sites should be concerned with pleasing customers by offering faster page downloads."