The holiday online shopping season is in full swing. Billions of dollars are setting new records since the Thanksgiving holiday. The official cyber holiday shopping season began and during the three mega deal days of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday the total online sales are up a whopping 25% at a total of over $5,000,000,000.00. The retail world plans for this season holiday surge extensively as it can represent as much as 80% of their online sales for the entire year.
Websites are stressed and tested and retested so that sales can be optimized. Yet it seems every single year some major player gets stung with the embarrassing reality of “Sorry, our website is down. Please come back later.” This year is no different as Mototola was the not so well prepared victim and had to tweet out to the world;
“Our website is down due to traffic & we’re working quickly to restore it. Watch here for updates and for when our Cyber Monday deals will start.”
Oh the shame of it all. Another high tech company that should know better was caught with its’ unprepared pants down. Motorola knew they would be getting a huge surge in website traffic as they had spents untold dollars promoting the sale of the MOTO X. The hours clicked by and by and while their competitors were raking in the bucks, Motorola was doing nothing but making excuses and suffering a very significant lose. Hour after hour passed and all they got were angry potential customers who were getting angrier all the time. At 10:30 P.M. that evening they were still down and getting tweets such as:
“I HAVE BEEN WAITING SINCE 9 a.m. for the MOTO X deal!!!”
Finally they had to admit total defeat and late on Cyber Monday, with all those potential sales gone, they finally sent out the notification that the deal would be re-offered on Wednesday December 4 and again on December 9.
While there are no hard numbers being reported at this time, it is a fair assumption that Motorola was expecting to sell a large number of phones this holiday season and now they are left red faced and with much less green in their corporate pockets. And the really sad part of this is that it was all avoidable. If they had just taken the proper precautionary steps and done the pre-surge testing they could have survived unscathed. When companies know they are going to see such huge spikes in traffic and when they want to make sure their customers can make their online purchases fast and easy then all that needs to be done is to test the websites load carrying ability in advance. By simply running load tests and transaction tests they could have seen their weakness in advance and could have avoided the shame and the lost revenues.
With a simple load test you can easily see what will happen. On the example below you can see clearly how a site reacts when it is not sufficiently designed to handle the traffic. By loading this simple site for our test you can see how the number of “not okay” responses climbs and the number of successful site visits gets smaller and smaller.
In addition to the fact the customers end up getting error messages at their attempt to visit a stressed site fail, even the ones that do complete have horrible service with extremely slow page build times. And as pages build slower and slower it is a proven fact that regardless of how much a customer may want your product he gets frustrated and angry and abandons your site to go shop elsewhere.
So the moral of this sad story is that if Motorola had just done the proper testing in advance they could have had a happy Cyber Monday instead of the implosion they experienced.