Online Retail Technology Fails: The Reiss Website Crash
When online retail technology fails in the face of overwhelming, enviable success – is it always a bad thing? Will it soon be a thing of the past?
Posted by Killian McAleese, 26th May 2011
Their website was up and down on Wednesday. What went wrong?
From Reiss's point of view, very little, actually, went wrong. In fact, you could say that everything went so right that their site crashed due to the number of customers hitting it, with a massive, accompanying boost on the high street.
And why? Well, take the Queen, the royal wedding and Obama-mania and wrap them all in one, Tuesday and Wednesday, and you get the picture.
So many young ladies were apparently so excited by Kate Middleton's Shola dress which she donned to meet the Obamas that Reiss's high street outlets were sold out by the end of the day and their site crashed, apparently several times.
The IT department at Reiss will no doubt have a much clearer insight into the precise situation than an outside commentator from Open Plus, but it may just be the case that yesterday's crash will not be one that particularly bothered either the management or the marketing department, after a little perspective.
The reported statistics, according to the retailer: site visits were up 300% due to “unprecedented demand.”
The Duchess of Cambridge's propensity to wear the brand, not to mention a number of other high-street names, has in general been quite a blessing for the retailer.
But most blessings are mixed in at least some way, and while Reiss will no doubt be weighing the pros very highly above the cons in this case, are there lessons other online and multi-channel retailers can learn from the sidelines?
Of course without knowing precisely what went on under the hood at Reiss's IT department, we can't say exactly if something should have or could have been done differently, but the situation does present retailers with an opportunity to pause, take stock and have a think about how to avoid such outages.
Is your IT system robust enough, scalable enough? Is your business prepared for such events?
"As cloud tehnologies gather pace and deliver ever more options for horizontal scaling at every level of the technology stack," according to Andrew Sykes, CEO of Open Plus Ltd, "outages caused by 'black swan' traffic events should increasingly become a thing of the past."
Is your business ready for a surge in sales? Could Reiss have done better?
UK Online Retail Grows by 6,600%23rd May 2011
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