Best Buy & The Black Friday Blackout

Screenshot of Best Buy's site unavailable page. Reads: "We're sorry. BestBuy.com is currently unavailable. Check back soon."

Foxie Rating - 2 stars - Bad
My heart goes out to Best Buy’s digital and IT team members.

To have a site outage on the busiest shopping day of the year — not just once, but numerous times! — has got to be worse than waking up in the seventh circle of hell.

Best Buy’s PR machine issued a statement on Friday evening, attributing the outages to record-level site traffic:

This has affected site performance and we have temporarily taken the site down in response. We are taking measures to restore full performance of the site as quickly as possible.

But isn’t that a akin to buying a flimsy umbrella and being surprised when it doesn’t hold up in a rainstorm?

A Year of Ill Prep

Truth be told, Team Best Buy has had an entire year to prepare for the biggest shopping weekend of the year.

An. Entire. Year.

How did they fail to anticipate and adequately prep for traffic spikes greatly exceeding those from the year before?

It is a well-known fact that year-over-year, more and more U.S. consumers have been conducting their holiday shopping online and via mobile devices.

Throwing Good Money After Bad

I have a sneaking suspicion that Best Buy’s site outages were due to outdated site infrastructure.

This is what can happen when instead of building and investing in newer and more stable and secure infrastructure, many companies continue to throw good money after bad by merely putting in patches and stopgaps while adding fancy new features and functionalities to a foundation that is as stable as the city of Venice.

Rebuilding a stable infrastructure from the ground up can be time-consuming and incredibly expensive. But it’s like having a house with a termite problem; you’re going to have to deal with it one day or another.

It’s better to implement the optimal solution now, to avoid losing millions in revenue later.

Time is Money

Amazon has estimated that just one second of increased page load time could cost the e-tailer upwards of $1.6 billion in sales a year.

That’s approximately $2.7 million a day and nearly $2000 a minute.

Just imagine how much revenue Best Buy lost on Black Friday during the periods when its website and mobile app were down.

Now, there will be a percentage of consumers who will have returned to the Best Buy site or app, once it was back up, to check out the specials and deals.

But there will be others who, upon seeing Best Buy’s site down message, simply navigated to other e-tailers like Amazon and purchased the very items they could have potentially purchased at Best Buy… if only the site had been fully operational at the key moment with those consumers were ready to buy.

Planning & Investment Are Key

Once the holiday shopping season has died down, here’s hoping Team Best Buy will hold a post-mortem — free of any counter-productive finger pointing — during which they will fully map out ways in which they can spend the next year updating the site’s infrastructure to handle the record-breaking site traffic that will befall them once again on Black Friday 2015.

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