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Which E-Commerce System Will Fail This Season?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the big-of-a-dire-prediction dept.

Christmas Cheer 63

Esther Schindler writes "Every year, there's some retailer whose e-commerce or supply chain fails. And it's a big deal, since the holiday shopping season can make or break their year. The IT challenge encompasses everything from server scalability to supply chain management to search engine optimization to database cajoling to business integration to... well, come to think of it, just about everything. To explore this, CIO.com has a big package of articles examining "Black Friday" and its implications, entitled E-Commerce and Supply Chain Systems Gird for Black Friday. Topics covered include online shopping and holiday IT failures. Despite all this—and at least ten years of industry experience in e-commerce sales—we all just know that someone will make yet another big mistake. I wonder who it'll be this year?"

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63 comments

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First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392887)

not goatse [cuteoverload.com]

Re:First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392991)

Goatse would be less harsh on the eyes than that.

Something for all of you to keep in mind (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392929)

I have a very tight anus and it's not going to pound itself.

Get busy, folks.

Warmest regards,

Zonk

D-Store (3, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392931)

I remember when D-Store learned that lesson in Australia (I was uncomfortably close to it). The web site was fine, but watching the supply chain dissolve as the bright hopes lost their grip was a nasty dose of reality. Some say the dot-bomb started then.

Gartner has a nice looking curve they use for technology take-up, looks like kind of a dampened sine wave.

Re:D-Store (1, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392953)

Found it. http://www.floor.nl/ebiz/gartnershypecycle.htm/ [floor.nl] .

There's e-commerce for you, in a nutshell.

Re:D-Store (4, Informative)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392987)

Arrrrgh hate it when links hide behind the cms.

Here's a better link http://www.gartner.com/pages/story.php.id.8795.s.8.jsp [gartner.com]

Re:D-Store (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21393519)

Yeah, or you could just remove the trailing slash from the original link, you fucking schizophrenia patient.

    http://www.floor.nl/ebiz/gartnershypecycle.htm [floor.nl]

Re:D-Store (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 6 years ago | (#21403669)

Yeah, well the second link was better anyway.

I am not schizophrenic. And I'm not either, so there.

test engineers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21398325)

This why it comes handy to pay good salaries to retain the best test engineers who can do capacity planing and load testing.

Re:test engineers (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 6 years ago | (#21403481)

It wasn't just load that did it, it was overall hurry. Time to market, and stuff not getting delivered before Christmas. The existing web site software was taken over by Com Tech Online, not originally developed by them. They tried to Just Grow it from there. The original code base was not particularly scalable, and the resulting application wasn't truly engineered (to be rather polite about it), not the fault of the programmers, they were given a pig and told it had to not only fly, but had to make trans-pacific flights and carry freight. And suppliers were defaulting in droves, as their supply chains weren't e-enabled either. The Mail Didn't Get Through.

Fortunately I was on another set of projects at the time and didn't get dragooned to the City Road office. I had to visit once in a while, and morale wasn't great. Painful to watch the hype curve from that close to the roller coaster, it was.

All I have to remember those days by is a really nifty shirt with a grocery cart on it and a few good friends. Oh, and of course a comprehensive education in the business of e-commerce, the hard way.

Re:test engineers (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21403761)

So what's your first name, cause I'm all curious now? Kris? Brett? Steve? Dev, UI, PM?

Re:test engineers (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 6 years ago | (#21417469)

Replied off-list

Re:D-Store (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21395181)

I remember when D-Store learned that lesson in Australia (I was uncomfortably close to it).

Were you there during the Dimension Data days? Or even the Com Tech days? Even better, did you work for Com Tech?

Re:D-Store (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 6 years ago | (#21403407)

Yep.

Re:D-Store (1)

knetix (1190873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21402659)

I think the dot-com crash hit the US before it hit us here in AU. dstore was probably the most spectacular one in AU - it went into receivership in 2001 and was sold to a new company that sorted out it's supply chain issues, so it still lives on :) http://dstore.com.au/ [dstore.com.au]

E-commerce Angle?? (4, Insightful)

rueger (210566) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392995)

Ok, I have skimmed TFA. Near as I can tell half of the examples don't really have much to do with e-commerce. Planes canceled by weather? That really has little to do with the 'net. Short stock in stores? Again, that's just good or bad luck or planning, not something that really is related to e-commerce. And mistakes that go back to 1999 really aren't that relevant - that' s ancient history in terms of e-commerce.

Really, this article has only a tenuous link to e-commerce.

Re:E-commerce Angle?? (0, Troll)

Cally (10873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393281)

A slightly less tenuous link: we already know who this year's turkey is: Microsoft. The ecommerce system that failed: Vista.

OK, less tenuous is still tenuous.

Re:E-commerce Angle?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21394425)

What the hell is that? throw in the keywords 'Microsoft' + 'Vista' & Less or more Tenuous to try to tie into parent post ???? ... that's a fucktard comment if I've ever seen one.

Re:E-commerce Angle?? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21395045)

The "rush" from all this stuff is unnecessary anyway. It's not even the biggest shopping day by dollars, the alleged "cyber monday" is down the list in terms of online shopping days by dollars too. Maybe it's done by the retailers to get news crews going, I just don't get this angle of cutting prices so hard just to get shoppers in. It's almost expected now, making it a potentially a vicious cycle.

Re:E-commerce Angle?? (1)

knash (1182849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21398593)

It's a package of stories about Black Friday. The story specific to e-commerce within the package is here: http://www.cio.com/article/155800 [cio.com] Also, the timeline (where the planes/weather delays are mentioned) also has some ecommerce mishaps. It's by no means all-encompassing. Add some if you like, by using the comments section. Or write to me directly (knash@cio.com). I'd love to grow that timeline to really chronicle e-commerce screw-ups (and lessons learned, of course, of course). -kim

Holiday based industries (3, Funny)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393017)

Elves: We are free and fairly sober with so many toys to build. The machines are kind of tricky, probably someone will be killed. But we gladly work for nothing
Fry: Which is good because we don't intend to pay
All: The elves are back to work today
Elves: Hooray! We have just a couple hours to make several billion gifts. And the labor isn't easy
Leela: When you all work triple shifts! You can make the job go quicker if you turn up the controls to super speed
All: It's back to work on X-mas eve...hooray

Leela: And though you're cold and sore and ugly your pride will mask the pain
Fry: Let my happy smile warm your hearts
Elf: There's a toy lodged in my brain!

Elves: We are getting awfully tired and we can't work any faster and we're very very sorry
Bender: Why you selfish little bastards! Do you want the kids to think that Santa's just a crummy empty handed jerk? Then shut your yaps and back to work!

Elves: Now it's very nearly X-mas and we've done the best we could
Fry: These toy soldiers are poorly painted
Leela: And they're made from inferior wood
Bender: I should give you all a beating but I really have to fly
Santabot: If I weren't stuck here frozen I'd harpoon you in the eye!
Elves: Now it's back into our tenements to drown ourselves in rye
Leela: You did the best you could, I guess, and some of these gorillas are ok
Elves: Hooray! We're adequate!
All: The elves are resting X-mas day, hooray!

Conspicuously Absent (4, Informative)

UserChrisCanter4 (464072) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393041)

November 2006: Amazon.com

Amazon's "customers choose" promotion/vote resulted in a limited number of XBOX 360 Core systems (then retailing for $300) being put on sale for $100 on Black Friday.

It brought Amazon to its knees. Loading individual pages, even those unrelated to the XBox, took over three minutes in some cases. I'm sure the XBox was meant as a simple loss-leader like most other Black Friday promotions, but the "sale" resulted in an extreme difficulty purchasing anything from Amazon for the two to three hours after the sale price went active. Ultimately, I'm sure a lucky few got the XBox, but I doubt they bought anything else. As for the rest of us, it was a pain to buy anything else even if we wanted to.

The saddest part was that this was 2006, not 1999. I knew it would be the equivalent of a /.-style hit, but I didn't figure that a company as big as Amazon would have any problems handling that load in this day and age. I guess I was wrong.

A few weeks later, some proposed that Amazon used it as a test-bed for their hosting/load leveling service that they unveiled a little later, so it's possible that the promotion was worth it to them if that was the case. Outside of that possibility, though, I can't believe CIO.com left this example out.

Re:Conspicuously Absent (2, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393261)

over 3 minutes? Sounds like an improvement!

Ok, they're not normally that bad, but amazon is like the windows vista of web sites. I just loaded a typical page (with my cache turned off) -- 285 http requests, 558K of data, 41.3 seconds to download it all.

You can boycott them for 1-click, I boycott them because they're a bitch to use.

Re:Conspicuously Absent (2, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393339)

I really hate the amazon "Sell your stuff", and in most cases the marketplace.
If I wanted used stuff, I would go to ebay.

Too bad they don't allow you to easily browse stuff that is **ONLY** on amazon.com, and not on "Joe-Bob's Shack" store.

Re:Conspicuously Absent (1)

chaoticgeek (874438) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393413)

I wish they had that too, that and stuff you are looking at that is super saver shipping. It annoys me sometimes about the stupid things that people post that the amazon ones are always buried in the back.

Re:Conspicuously Absent (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21395195)

I just loaded a typical page (with my cache turned off) -- 285 http requests, 558K of data, 41.3 seconds to download it all.

Ever measured a Slashdot page? For this page, currently, for little over 20kb of text, there's closing in on a megabyte of downloading.

Re:Conspicuously Absent (1)

Justus (18814) | more than 6 years ago | (#21395835)

Really? I imagine that it varies with your threshold settings, but you seem to imply there's a lot of non-text content on the page (which is presumably not affected).

Checking this story with Firebug, I see 143 KB total (127 KB cached). That's using the old-style comment display, not the Javascript-enabled version. Mind you, Firefox supports gzipped pages, so it's entirely possible that if you're using a browser which doesn't, you'll see much higher numbers.

This topic is of some interest to me, as I'm a web developer by trade and I've been experimenting with ways to reduce the bandwidth requirements for some of the sites I produce.

woot.com (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21393437)

It gets about as much traffic as slashdot per quantcast.com. It got killed this week, multiple times. And it uses Windows Server 2003. When it does the Bag of Crap for $1 it takes hours to come back.
Load balancing is totally f ed over there.

The much busier refurbdepot.com is sturdier.

Farther down the posts somebody got tagged as a troll for mocking Vista as a server, but it's so true.

Re:woot.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21393861)

woot uses Amazon's S3 storage for lots of things and unavailability of S3 often stalls refreshes.

Mebbe Amazon should hire from Akamai and Google.

Re:Conspicuously Absent (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 6 years ago | (#21397161)

It sure would not be amazon.ca, perhaps amazon.com. The Canadian version is 40% more expensive than the US one. Unless of course amazon.ca gets a whopping price adjustment and is only running on one server from presence and suckers.

Systems monitoring, people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21393067)

If you have such a system, you best be monitoring it at a minimum. Nagios and Groundwork come to mind.

Re:Systems monitoring, people (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#21394169)

Thanks for the advice. Also, if anyone happens to go sky diving, you might want to strap a parachute to your back before you jump out the plane.

I'm predicting... (3, Interesting)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393085)

that Walmart's website will go down again due to high traffic on Black Friday. It'll be interesting to see how other companies, like Target, will do on that day as well. Something also is making me want to think that Best Buy will not perform to the same levels (time- and price-adjusted) as they used to, probably due to the credit crunch and that the Average Joe should be less inclined to make a moderate-large luxury purchase (e.g. 60" TV being moderate) this year compared to last.

But in all likelyhood, I'm guessing that the people who are going to be shopping less this year are going to be the lowest-lower income families, since a larger portion of their income is going to be spent on interest rates because they got taken advantage of with the adjustable-rate mortages and Home Equity Lines of Credit. So I'm expecting that people in the lower-middle to middle income families will shop at places like Kohls and Target rather than Macy's/Marshal Fields/Dayton's, while upper-income stores like Tiffany's will have another phenominal season.

Re:I'm predicting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21393195)

Off topic but since you mentioned BestBuy ;)

Typical sale at BestBuy and even worse on Black Friday is like this, two or three items take up and entire full page ad, each store typically has 2-5 in stock of those items. They are the absolute worst for questionable advertising if you'd not like to accuse them of that, they are at least getting away with treating you like a sucker. As much as people hate Wal-Mart, I remember one year, they were still bringing out palletes of DVD players that were on BF special at 2:00 pm. There are stores that try to meet demand, and stores that use the deals to sucker you into the store.

I never understood this about the idiots who go to BB on BF, If you are not one of the first hundred or so people in line, why even bother going? At 6:05am when all of the BF deals are gone, everything else in the store is at its regular price that you can buy now or maybe even cheaper a week before Christmas.

Re:I'm predicting... (2, Insightful)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393433)

I think you are missing an important part of a deal. It's my thought that the people who are really crunched for money are going to be out in droves this year to get good deals on stuff they need. Not everything for sale is a luxury item.

Re:I'm predicting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21393551)

the lowest-lower income families, since a larger portion of their income is going to be spent on interest rates because they got taken advantage of

Are you implying that they are helpless dopes, but you know what's best for them if only people would listen to you?

Re:I'm predicting... (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393991)

I don't know... I think that the segment of the population that got hit the hardest by the credit crunch were already avid Wal-Mart customers. Yeah, there were some who were living WAY above their means, but I think those are more the exception than the rule.

The rich-poor gap is growing alarmingly wide, which is inevitably going to cause a rather severe backlash against the fiscal conservatives not too far down the road.

But back on topic:
Wal-Mart's site isn't going to go down. People who got severely hit by the credit crisis aren't going to be the ones buying big-ticket items on sale during Black Friday.

Likewise, Wal-Mart's network infrastructure is supposedly intimidatingly huge. They're notorious data mongerers, recording every single line item from every single retail outlet in a central datacenter, and doing all sorts of wacky correlations and calculations on the data. Not a whole ton is publicly known about their data operations, but there were widespread rumors that their network capacity rivaled that of Google up until a year or two ago.

Considering the absolute gargantuan size of Wal-Mart's retail operation, even if their Online traffic jumps by one or two orders of magnitude, it's just going to be a tiny blip in the graph as long as everything's properly load-balanced and distributed.

Re:I'm predicting... (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#21399109)

Wal-Mart's site isn't going to go down. People who got severely hit by the credit crisis aren't going to be the ones buying big-ticket items on sale during Black Friday.

Likewise, Wal-Mart's network infrastructure is supposedly intimidatingly huge. They're notorious data mongerers, recording every single line item from every single retail outlet in a central datacenter, and doing all sorts of wacky correlations and calculations on the data. Not a whole ton is publicly known about their data operations, but there were widespread rumors that their network capacity rivaled that of Google up until a year or two ago.
Care to explain this [msn.com] then?

Re:I'm predicting... (1)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21394131)

But in all likelyhood [sic], I'm guessing that the people who are going to be shopping less this year are going to be the lowest-lower income families, since a larger portion of their income is going to be spent on interest rates because they got taken advantage of with the adjustable-rate mortages [sic] and Home Equity Lines of Credit.

A larger portion of their income is going towards gasoline. Heating oil prices have gone up as well which will decrease the amount of money pumped into the retail sector.

Which E-Commerce System Will Fail This Season? (0, Troll)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393159)

Which E-Commerce System Will Fail This Season?

Any of them running on Vista... I can only imagine the headaches having to have someone in front of the server:

USER29843 is sending their order information via the web... [CANCEL]/[ALLOW]?

USER29843 is trying to pay by credit card... [CANCEL]/[ALLOW]?

.

Moderator Tip: Mod +1 FUNNY

This Will All Does Not Matter. I Make My Own Gifts (0, Offtopic)

mrs clear plastic (229108) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393325)

Folks:

For the past fifteen years, I have not done any Christmas shopping. I have been making my family's gifts instead of fighting the mall crowds.

My only shopping is for raw materials and I do that in the summer and fall, when e-commerce is not under stress; or the places I go to don't really need it. (Goodwill stores for used fabric, the bike shop for used metal parts, or the dumpster for any scrap metal or fabrics.

The only 'e' in my Christmas is the electronics in my sewing machine or TIG welder!

Beyond saving me the frustration of shopping, making my own gifts adds a personal touch to my Christmas giving; this is the way it was done in the old days. We all used to make something for each other.

There is something lacking about shopping for a gift on line and having it shipped directly to the recipient. There is no personal, human contact between the bearer and the receiver of the gift.

Home made gifts have the ultimate in human, personal contact between me and those whom I grace with my home made creations.

If you want to see what the imagination of a 55 year old man who spends all his spare time being creative can create, go to www.clearplastic.com

Peace

Re:This Will All Does Not Matter. I Make My Own Gi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21393481)

Props to you and I understand your angle about gift giving and thought. I've thought about giving my wife something that I'd spend a lot of time and effort on that I know she really needs and would enjoy having done for her. She has wanted this for at least 8 months now and has been asking very often, she even seemed a little frustrated when she did not have it when her parents came to stay for the week either so I know she is serious about it.. It would be with my own hands and tools and probably take me almost all day so I think it will be very special thing to give her during the holidays, you have given me inspiration, I've finally decided to go ahead and do this for her. I'm going to clean the gutters on the house!! Boy will she be happy. I could pay someone to do it but like you said, that would not be the same.
On that note.. If you can make something with a screen size of about 50 inches that I can watch NFL games in HD quality on, I'll consider buying it from you.

Re:This Will All Does Not Matter. I Make My Own Gi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21393499)

You, sir, are a crazy hippie (0, Troll)

Dego (182553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393581)

What if they dont want crazy hippie lighted clothing? =)

Re:This Will All Does Not Matter. I Make My Own Gi (1)

DeepHurtn! (773713) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393797)

Listen, you un-American subversive, if you don't participate in an orgy of needless consumption, the terrorists win!

Or the Communists, or something, I forget.

;)

Re:This Will All Does Not Matter. I Make My Own Gi (1)

TheSpatulaOfLove (966301) | more than 6 years ago | (#21395523)

Wow! Those colors taste like music!

shouldn't they already be aware? (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393483)

To explore this, CIO.com has a big package of articles examining "Black Friday" and its implications

Wouldn't that be preaching to the choir? I would hope CIOs already have the experience and background to know the problems and implications...especially if they're CIO for any sort of decent-sized online and/or brick-and-mortar retailer...

Esther Schindler asks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21393545)

After we all reply, the answers will be put together and called Schindler's List?

Way to be a "Negative Nancy" (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393563)

i mean seriously who freaking cares who screws up bad this year, jesus this is almost like watching a crappy reality TV show people watch merely to see others completely destroy their own lives.

Really... (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393703)

Does buying stuff make you happy? You're just a consumer?

 

Very light on content (1)

bangzilla (534214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21394083)

To explore this, CIO.com has a big package of articles examining "Black Friday" and its implications. I see no big package of articles - I find almost content free fluff. There is nothing of substance here. The only failure I see this year is CIO.com turning out worthless copy.

What made us blind? (1)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21394093)

Every year, there's some retailer whose e-commerce or supply chain fails. And it's a big deal, since the holiday shopping season can make or break their year.

No, it's not the holiday shopping season (whatever the hell that even means) that can make or break a retailer's year. Christmas is what makes or breaks a retailer's year. When did we forget that? Retailers still use Christmas music and props along with Santa Claus in their commercials but why they refuse to reference Christmas by name when they make billions off it is beyond me. Give credit where credit is due.

PayPal has been fudged all month... (1)

urdine (775754) | more than 6 years ago | (#21394137)

Last 4 days (and currently) [pdncommunity.com] they intermittently take people's money but don't notify the ecommerce site. Oops.

Macy's already beat everyone to the punch. (1)

stubaggs (629456) | more than 6 years ago | (#21394259)

Was trying to browse the site friday morning (round 10am CST) and it was down (out of connections), when I did get in it was barely responsive. Wonder what they are running it on ?

Re:Macy's already beat everyone to the punch. (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#21395815)

Somebody just upgraded the Pentium II server from running SCO Unix to Windows Vista.

Yes - I'll be modded Troll or Flamebait for this!

Anyway - the problem can range all the way from a server with a hiccup to a DOS attack. Or maybe you just hit them when they were running a backup of their server...

Oh please god (1)

Luveno (575425) | more than 6 years ago | (#21394313)

Don't let it be the one I'm supporting for the first time this year.

Not only E-Commerce (1)

lblITgirl (1190551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21395543)

While E-Commerce sites will take a beating, physical stores do as well. I worked at a major department store for four years. Without fail, every Black Friday the whole system would crash. This would mean no credit cards, no checks, and no prices on merchandise.

Re:Not only E-Commerce (1)

knash (1182849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21398645)

That's a good point. I worked in a dept store one holiday season and went thru the same thing. And there, you have to actually be face to face with the angry customer. A whole line of them. --kim

We're all doomed! (0, Offtopic)

Msdose (867833) | more than 6 years ago | (#21396303)

The U.S. Postal Service is systematically destroying all packages sent to other countries. This has happened to me twice in the last week. The packages are returned to the senders in the destoyed condition like a warning. Once this gets out it will cause consumers to stop all online buying. The communists win!

Look for largest discount on desired items (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#21397417)

Whichever store has the most unbelievable discount on the most desired item (a wii for 99 bucks or something like that) will crash first.

Black Friday (1)

Buchenskjoll (762354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21404623)

Thanks to Wikipedia I now know that Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season in the United States. Thank you, Wikipedia
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