The following is based on a true story. The names have been omitted, and the places and times changed to protect those who suffered from slow internet.

Everything was all set. A hot cup of coffee was sitting next to the keyboard, the entire family’s wish lists were laid out in front of the monitor, and the store accounts had been set up days ago with multiple credit cards inputted into each one. All that was left to handle was the actual pointing and clicking.

Cyber Monday, while sparing her the trip to the mall and the inevitable risk of death by trampling from the hordes of insane people, still managed to be one of her most stressful days on the year. With three kids under the age of 13 and a husband who said he didn’t care about getting gifts but secretly loved it more than anything, she wanted to do her part to make sure that everyone’s holiday was the best it could be.

That’s why she had planned everything out well in advance. She had gotten the wish lists, researched all the deals to determine what she was going to go after first, and planned out how she was going to go about buying them. The good news was that thanks to a tech geek husband and similarly disposed kids, she could get at least half of the items at the same online electronics store.

When the clock struck 9 am and the sale began, she acted like a sprinter exploding out of the blocks. Eyes darting and hand moving the mouse deftly, she signed in and started adding items to her cart with ease, compiling an amazing 15 of them in the first five minutes. By the time 9:10 rolled around, she had found everything she wanted – with a nice chunk of savings to boot – and clicked the checkout button with a big smile on her face.

That smile faded quickly, however, when the screen failed to change in the first few seconds. She sat there staring at the spinning loading icon for 10-15 seconds, which felt like an eternity.

Then, with tension mounting, she found herself face to face with an error message. “We’re sorry, it looks like something went wrong” was the only thing it said. She tried refreshing the page, only to find a dreaded “content resubmission form” screen. Another refresh brought no further solution.

Now desperate, she clicked the ‘Back’ button, expecting to find herself back in her full shopping cart. To her horror, however, it was empty. Everything was gone. Her finger was a blur with more refresh clicks as expletives that would make Quentin Tarantino blush poured from her mouth.

It was no use. She had to go back and re-select every item that she wanted, only now half of them were out of stock. Her chance had come and gone. Despondent, she checked out with her significantly smaller cart – NOW it worked, of course – and started looking for other sites where she could get some deals on the lost products.

Needless to say, she wasn’t going to be shopping with that retailer again anytime soon.

Want to ensure that your customers don’t experience similar results of latency and failure this holiday season? Check back throughout the month for monitoring tips in our Black Friday eCommerce series.

 

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Author Craig Lowell

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