Retail websites hurrying to make changes before Cyber Monday – with unexpected downtime

Date: 19th November 2014
Author: Deri Jones

With Cyber Monday fast approaching many companies are making adjustments to their websites to take advantage of the busiest online retail day of the year.

Now it may be totally unrelated, but the Toys ‘R’ Us website was down for an hour this afternoon, after a morning of sporadic problems.

Toysrus site down November 19th

After calling their call centre we were told there was an issue on the payment page and it had been causing problems all morning. The related Babies R Us was similarly shut down. A little bit of advice from Deri Jones, CEO of online performance monitoring company SciVisum, It’s good practise to tweet to the masses that there is an issue and you are dealing with it. If not the void is often filled with negative comments, and Toy ‘R Us  Facebook page did pick up at least one today.

Just recently, it was Argos that was down for over 10 hours when the site did not come back online after planned maintenance.

There can be a multitude of reasons why a website comes to a halt, today it seems it was done deliberately, because of the ongoing payment page problems at Toys ‘R’ Us. Websites don’t usually fail by themselves and nearly always it is because something has changed, even something minor: a third party supplier might have issues, a new payment channel or upstream merchant could have been added or sometimes it’s just the classic software complexity thing:  a small change in just a few lines  of code can have far reaching consequences.

We just hope that other companies can catch the problems as quick, if not quicker, than Toys ‘R’ Us before they cause major problems. Having extensive pre- and on-going customer journey testing would solve the problem. Deri added, Don’t let your customers test your website for you.

PS, it may be that Toys ‘R’ Us will have much bigger platform changes coming in the future:  Googling shows that six months ago they advertised for an ATG specialist:   whereas their UK site is listed as a Hybris platform customer, as recently as this month in an Accenture report.

Toys ‘R’ Us first announced their adoption of the Hybris platform in 2009.

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