How badly will Macy’s be hurt by its Black Friday outages?
On one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year, it has become at least as important for retailers to have a strong online presence as a brick-and-mortar one. But Macy’s attempt to manage the changing face of Black Friday last week did not go according to plan.
From 12 p.m. to around 5 p.m. on Friday, the Macy’s website experienced intermittent service outages, reported Bloomberg. Some shoppers received an error message when visiting the website, which indicated that the site was experiencing heavier traffic than normal and suggesting a time span to retry their visit. Mobile users also noted being directed to a message indicating the website was down for routine maintenance.
Macy’s was not the only major retailer that experienced website outages on Black Friday. Express, Victoria’s Secret and Pier 1 Imports all experienced some degree of slowdown or errors according to Bloomberg, accompanied by customer venting on social media.
But the Macy’s case may be drawing the most attention, given the retailer’s avowed commitment to technology investments. The company has been public about increasing its use of in-store technology to reinvigorate the shopping experience and bring customers back to its stores. In July, for instance, Macy’s began testing an AI-based mobile tool to answer questions for in-store shoppers, Forbes reported. The retailer has also implemented smart fitting rooms, tablets and other gadgets to help shoppers in some locations.
In the past few years there has been a clear shift in Black Friday traffic from in-store to online. According to Adobe, online spending during the Thanksgiving holiday grew 18 percent year-over-year in 2016, as reported earlier in RetailWire. Black Friday in-store sales dropped 10.4 percent year-over-year according to RetailNext.
These statistics indicate that, for retailers, focusing resources on their online presences during the time surrounding Black Friday should be top-of-mind.
As the protracted retail holiday continues on, Macy’s has offered big online deals for Cyber Monday — also promoted as “Cyber Week” on their website.
RetailWire was unable to find any reports of Macy’s website experiencing slowdowns or crashes on Cyber Monday at the time this article was written.
- Macy’s Website Suffers Disruptions on Critical Shopping Day – Bloomberg
- Online wins the Black Friday weekend again – RetailWire
- Macy’s Makes Rapid Advances In Technology – Forbes.com
- Cyber Monday Sales Preview – People.com
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Macy’s holiday results be hurt by the failure of its website to work correctly on Black Friday? What lessons can other retailers can learn from these high-profile holiday website problems?