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Technical difficulties bring down major e-commerce site

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(CNN) -- A massive e-commerce service has been shut down for at least one day due to technical difficulties during the height of the online shopping season, company officials said Friday.

Nexchange Corp., based in Atlanta, Georgia, allows other Web sites to choose products for an e-store without losing any traffic.

Some of the Web sites affected by the Nexchange technical problems include CNN.com, CNNfn.com, Travelnow.com, Weather.com and Cox Interactive Media. Products from more than 50 retailers are offered to Nexchange's network of about 30,000 Web sites.

In essence, Nexchange hosts the stores, processes the customer payment, passes the orders to the merchant and then writes commission checks for the affiliates. Although the stores have the look and feel of the member's site, Nexchange hosts all the stores on its own servers.

Joe Michaels, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Nexchange, told CNN.com that the technical staff was making "good progress" in restoring the site as of late Friday night.

"The technical difficulties we have been experiencing were caused by a hardware failure and not because of the increased holiday shopping or the Nexchange technology," said a statement issued by the company.

"We have an aggressive recovery plan in place and expect shopping to be restored by the end of the weekend."

Michaels said the server logs were still being examined to determine the exact origin of the problem, and he said no conclusions could be drawn until after that time.

A spokeswoman from Keynote Systems Inc., which monitors Internet and e-commerce performance, said a shutdown at this time of year is especially detrimental to businesses like Nexchange.

"This is obviously a terrible time of year for Nexchange.com to be experiencing such serious technical difficulties. With thousands of sites depending on Nexchange for their holiday business, these e-stores are essentially closed for business during this make or break season," said Marilyn Kanas, vice president of public services at San Mateo, California-based Keynote Systems.

The next few weeks leading up to the holiday season are seen as critical for retail sites.

Nexchange's difficulties follow on the heels of a brief crash at Amazon.com on Thursday -- the second there in less than a week.



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