On September 13th, Target’s website came crashing down as a result of over demand for the their new limited-edition Missoni product line. Along with misjudging how popular the product line was going to be in their stores, Target completely misjudged how popular the campaign would be with online shoppers. By not planning for scalability with their website host provider, they not only had to spend an entire day getting the Target website back online, but they had to deal with a crisis that made international business news.


The Back Story

Three weeks prior to the Missoni launch, Target had depended on Amazon Web Services as the back end for their site. But, they made the cut over to their own proprietary system never imaging web traffic that would be heavier than on Black Friday. A whisper campaign featuring celebrities talking about the Target Missoni fashion line launch drove an unprecedented number on online shoppers to the Target website starting at 6:00 a.m. on launch day. According to Alertsite, a web performance management company, by 7:47 a.m. the site was down. By 8:00 a.m., Target had posted a courtesy page letting their online customers know that the site was being worked on. Throughout the day, there were moments when the site was back online, but it was fading in and out for shoppers who suddenly had empty shopping carts or who had lost their payment information. By 11:00 p.m., the site was back up.

Working with your Hosting Vendor to Avoid Problems

You need to think of your web host provider as a business partner. Work with them to make sure that you’ve got the support, features, and services that you need for your website. Make sure that you have a guarantee of uptime in advance of signing a contract or paying anything in advance. And, if you are sharing hosting services, you need to know that you are sharing resources with many other websites that may be on the same server. To plan for major product launches or heavy traffic periods, consider getting a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or a dedicated server plan. These plans can start around $150 and up, but will offer you easy scalability as your business grows.

In following Target’s Missoni launch news stories, you can see that outside of the website crash which made Target look pretty unprofessional, most of the publicity was pretty good in the end due to their quick response and the popularity of the product line. By working with your web host provider to discuss your website’s growing needs will save you from a potential website disaster. Your website host provider is there to help you, so make sure to check in with them from time to time.

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