Virtual Black Friday a Disaster for Many
November 26, 2006 12:01 AM
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Just like retail stores during Black Friday, retailer web sites also had lots of visitors -- too many for some
Several major retailers
reportedly had issues with high amounts of web traffic
on their web sites during Black Friday. Wal-Mart's web site was difficult to access in the morning, leaving users with blank pages, delays and/or other problems. In the early afternoon, the web site just told users to come back at a later time. comScore Media Metrix says Walmart.com is the 21st most popular web site in the U.S., with almost 23 million unique visitors going to the site in September.
The possibility of purchasing one of 1,000 Microsoft Xbox 360 Core consoles for $100
caused Amazon.com to slow down
around 11AM PST yesterday. The small amount of Xbox 360 Core consoles sold out 29 seconds after the deal went live. Amazon's web site appeared to be back to normal within 15 minutes of the Xbox 360 deal ending. The additional traffic brought some affiliate Amazon sites to a crawl, such as Target.com.
Disney's shopping site was relatively okay, but still had congestion several clicks into the site, according to a spokesman for DisneyShopping.com. Even non-gift oriented sites experienced some traffic pains, as peripheral shopping engines like Shopping.com and PriceGrabber.com posted all time traffic records, and annoying load times.
A VISA spokesperson later confirmed that e-commerce sales were significantly off expectations, claiming good weather prompted customers to turn off the computer and drive to the stores instead.
Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving, has often times been one of the busiest U.S. shopping days of the year. As more retailers begin offering better deals on their web sites, they are getting better at dealing with the increased traffic. However, poor web experiences has been an alarming trend for users attempting to stay out of the lines at the brick and mortar stores.
comScore reported eBay tallied in at over 7.5M IP addresses just on Friday alone, with high expectations for "Cyber Monday" as well. Cyber Monday is the term recently coined to describe the Monday immediately following Black Friday, and has also recently been a strong shopping session.
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A better way
11/26/2006 4:11:45 PM
Amazon should have had all contenders draw virtual straws instead of making them deal with this overload. That way even if they didn't get the deal they would at least feel that they had a fair shake at it. Agonizing at the loading bar that just wouldn't go past half for 5 minutes? Is that supposed to engage the customer to keep shopping Amazon happily after the fiasco is over? (supposedly, it worked based on the other "deals" that sold out)
Even better, they could have shown a flash animation of the virtual people crowding into the virtual storefront to get at what is essentially a virtual deal. Of course, virtual trampling would provide the engaging eye candy that would make the experience virtually worthwhile.
Now, if they could translate this into a full fledged MMO-type game, that would be pure gold. Pure virtual gold.
RE: A better way
11/27/2006 1:21:30 PM
My thoughts are exactly the same.
1. It is a self-inflicted problem.
2. Should have draw virtual straws before last Thursday!
If their servers can't handle the extra load, what's the point of a hot-but-extremely limited sale that causes problems for ALL customers. 100 Xbox 360 is insignificant revenue. Little to no profit. And people who "came in" to shop can leave with a simple mouse click, so the usual B&M special sales draw reasoning doesn't apply. MORE IMPORTANTLY, non-Xbox shoppers got shafted too. Rly smart Amazon!
Pissed off potential customers are more likely to shop elsewhere afterwards.
RE: A better way
11/29/2006 4:19:46 AM
"Virtually worthwhile" that was a true classic! I enjoyed that one - so much so I could virtually see myself upmodding your post. Ah the differences between a the virtual world and reality... :-)
There simply is no feedback of numbers when buying online - you cant drive up see the queues and say, no this aint for me today...
Instead everyone drives up at the same time, bangs into each other and all try to all park in the same carpark. There are 48 doors, one of them is open, well it's the service entrance and the catflap is unlocked, but a few very very thin people happen to luck out on finding it and are able to squeeze through and claim the riches. Ah yes this is reality... virtually.
"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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