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The Day Missoni Crashed Target

Like so many of us, I got up early to do a “flash shop” of Missoni’s line at Target.  Call it wanting to be part of the experience – it’s the thrill of securing coveted items that only a few will get their hands on before it’s all sold out.  I had actually never allowed myself to be part of an experience, such as this, until today, realizing that it would be fun to have a Missoni bathroom in my new place (usually, I believe diffusion lines take away from owning true luxury). Thus, I got up at 7:30am to see what I could pull before the throws of people set in.  Just as I was going through my cart to pull out what I decided I didn’t want, first the checkout feature stopped working, then the inventory on the pages disappeared and then, the ill-fated message:

There’s the first problem… you’ve sent a dog to fix it.  Seriously though, coming from the tech world and seeing this happen dozens of times before, it’s a wonder that no one seems to anticipate this happening.  What is interesting… who powers Target’s ecommerce site until the early 2012… Amazon.  I would say it’s bad timing for Missoni to partner with Target, as Target is going through a roll-out of their new ecommerce system, sans Amazon (although I’m sure for this purpose, they wouldn’t be dumb enough to roll this out on their new infrastructure… would they?).  Thus, is Amazon’s existing infrastructure or Target’s new one to be blamed for the crash?  Target will tell you it’s the sheer volume of people using it today and there was no way to get around that.  I’m not so sure.  In an article by amazonstrategies.com, Target sells about $1.2B worth of goods online, with millions shopping daily (granted, spread out over a period of 24 hours, not in two).  Around the holidays, they are slammed like any other site and, if they are still running on Amazon’s servers, there is the capacity to handle it.  If anything at all, they had 6 months to prepare for this day, which equates to adding dedicated servers if they had to.  Not enough of an argument?  Recent experiences with the Target pop-up store for Missoni, the line around the block for Lanvin with H&M, rare (coveted) flash sales with Gilt Group, all prove one thing: it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Not to be incredibly sexist but it makes me wonder if the head of IT (which on LinkedIN, is a male and so far, I have only seen male infrastructure employees), doesn’t understand that when there is a sale on something EVERY FEMALE from here to Antarctica WANTS, that maybe a few additional servers wouldn’t hurt.  It’s case study, after case study of proving that it’s no longer just supply vs. demand.  It’s supply vs. demand vs. handling capacity.

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3 thoughts on “The Day Missoni Crashed Target”

  1. Completely agree with your post. I didn’t realize that Amazon was operating Target’s system before but now the change in looks (of the site) make sense. I, personally, prefer the older site. They should have waited until after the Missoni launch. It’s been an hour and the site is STILL down for me. 😦
    I’m sure everything I wanted that was available “online only” will already by sold out. Oh well.

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  2. You were one of the smart ones! No, they cannot “scrap” anything and will honor the online orders. It’s not so much a problem with the systems not being able to distinguish inventory availability – those are set to run down to zero. It’s the sheer number of people visiting the site, adding things to their cart and then either removing/purchasing items that stalled it – think of a incredibly fast-paced game of hokie pokie when it comes to processing that many requests. If you received a confirmation number, you’re fine.

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  3. I ordered everything online at 6:15am this morning and got all I wanted. About $900 worth of stuff. Hope the crash did not affect my order, though! Now I am worried that even though I got the order confirmation email, what if they decided to scrap it…hmmm, can they do that?

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