Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Yahoo Stores Missed Cyber Monday

Well, it wasn't just us. The story has hit the major news services. I've seen estimates that as high as 45,000 websites were down. Yahoo was gracious enough to post the following:

Some merchants are reporting that shoppers are receiving an error message indicating 'system unavailable' during the checkout process. We are aware of this issue and are currently investigating.
Some forum posters have posited that Yahoo put "tweaks" into their production system a mere 2 weeks before the big day. As anyone with a background in software development can tell you, that's insane. Those production systems should have been frozen until after the holidays.

Bill Hartzer points out that Yahoo doesn't have a service level agreement. That may be, but I think it would be hard for Yahoo to convince a jury that the lack of an SLA means that they're excused for being down on the biggest shopping day of the year.

Bill also suggested that Yahoo merchants could have redirected their order form to a different server. That's easier said than done -- the Yahoo TOS specifically forbids sending users to a different checkout system. Testing that would have been rather difficult because Yahoo would have shut the users down. And if you've ever done any programming on the Yahoo store system, you realize that it's not just a simple redirect. This would have been well beyond the technical capabilities of most stores.

Promote My Site suggests that these store owners still made the right choice by outsourcing their store.
Let me just say that maybe Yahoo could have done a better job - we don’t know what happened yet - but I’m sure they were paying attention to the problem, which is certainly more than most businesses could do.
It doesn't sound to me like Yahoo was paying attention. Or maybe they were. Before cyber Monday, Yahoo was predicting that it wasn't going to be such a big day:
But others say it's hardly the busiest online buying day of the year. Internet retailers should expect even bigger days on December 7 and 10, according to the folks at Yahoo! Shopping.
I guess they knew something last week that the rest of us didn't know.

So far today the web site seems to be working again and we're taking orders. But thanks to Yahoo, what should have been a big day was a bust for Carolina Sauce. So support your friends in a small business and place another order.

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