UK supermarket chain Tesco was humiliated today after its website was unavailable to many Internet users for more than an hour on the day it was named top performer in a survey of leading websites.
According to a survey of the world's 100 fastest growing companies with ecommerce websites - conducted by the London School of Economics and Internet researcher E-Audits - Tesco is the most successful at creating business opportunities on the Net.
But the celebrations were short lived because the Tesco Direct site went offline for much of Wednesday afternoon for users of Netscape Web browsers. The site later recovered, displaying a message which advised Netscape users to change their browser to Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
The retailer has more than 100,000 customers signed up to its online shopping service.
A Tesco spokesman confirmed that the site had crashed, but could not offer an explanation. Visitors to www.tesco.co.uk received the error message: "Response object error 'ASP 0156 : 80004005'".
Tesco was among 100 companies chosen for the survey, sponsored by Novell, from the Deloitte Consulting and Braxton Associates Top 200 Growth list which looked at each company's annual sales growth over five years. Other high-performing companies include America Online, Walt Disney and Nortel Networks.
The survey focused on the various stages of business transactions on the websites. This includes company information, advertising and promotion, online ordering and settlement, and after-sales service. The report found that nearly all of the top 30 European companies are traditional "bricks-and-mortar" firms such as Tesco and Nokia, which came seventh overall.
The report says that Tesco set the standard for Web implementation and ecommerce, and it won the award for its "intuitive site design, easy-to-use ordering procedures and payment facilities".
John Higgins, Tesco's Internet IT manager, said: "We have an increasing amount of customers who shop online. We want to make sure we do not lose sight of what the customer wants. We know from our offline dealings that it is important to let the consumer choose."
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