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December 1, 2008

Are e-retailers ready for the holiday crush?

Posted: 04:01 PM ET

Today is Cyber Monday, the online shopping equivalent of last week's Black Friday and the unofficial kickoff of the holiday e-retailing season. The origin of the term was the now-dated notion that shoppers would return to their offices, where they had high-speed Internet access, after the Thanksgiving shopping weekend and make online purchases of items they missed buying in stores.

Despite the newly minted recession, early figures show that budget-minded shoppers, seeking free shipping and other discounts, are clicking on twice as many retail Web pages this season than last year. (Whether they are buying anything is another matter.)

But are e-retailers ready? Web sites for the Gap, J. Crew, Sephora and Williams-Sonoma all experienced Cyber Monday slowdowns or crashes, according to, an e-commerce news site. These episodes followed similar problems Black Friday on,, and other sites.

“Competitive pressure among the largest retailers is intense. This is triply true this year given recession-fueled bargain hunting,” said Evan Schuman,’s editor. “That will push higher-than-expected traffic, but it may also pressure many merchants to launch features before they're ready. Put it together and it’s an ideal recipe for crashes and other performance problems.”

Some retail sites may not be prepared to handle the expanded use of mobile browsers and widgets connecting them social-networking destinations such as Facebook, Schuman said.

Web site crashes are more than inconvenient - they can torpedo purchases and frustrate shoppers who entered their credit card numbers but aren't sure their purchases went through. So what to do?

Schuman suggests shoppers sign up for’s free news alert feed to learn ahead of time which sites are having problems. Or, heaven forbid, people can still buy gifts the old-fashioned way - by going in person to an actual store.

–Brandon Griggs,

Filed under: Internet • Uncategorized

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Michael Covington   December 1st, 2008 11:39 pm ET

A water main break in Flint, Michigan, took down Sectorlink, which is a major web hosting company, for several hours during the height of Cyber Monday.

Eli Lilly   December 2nd, 2008 8:01 am ET

Sears Holdings outages during Black Friday are as certain as leftover turkey.

Tyler W (Portland, OR)   December 2nd, 2008 12:38 pm ET

I just bought something from

I have never bought anything like this online

first time ever!

so there im helping.

Everything will be fine with the economy. The media is just hyping it so much that investors get scared over words. But the public will still consume and people are still going to work, the world keeps spinning.

Rick   December 2nd, 2008 12:44 pm ET

Bloomingdales and Banana Republic also went down for some time yesterday morning as well.

Larian LeQuella   December 2nd, 2008 1:51 pm ET

Another "infrastructure" that needs serious help is the web. Remember, this all started with a DARPA project many, many years ago, and now it's a horrible mish-mash of different technologies and poorly thought out cobbling together of protocols and standards.

It's time for Web 3.0?

Franko   December 3rd, 2008 1:00 am ET

Suprising outages. Credit card companies back up their records in numerous places and countries. - High security, more secure than Fort Knox. (Fort Knox is in just one location, and not encripted)

Good to look online, but problems are hard to deal with..Purchase locally, and help the local economy ? Don't like the present, easier to locally exchange.

april   December 3rd, 2008 12:39 pm ET

Amen, Franko! What better time, what better year, than to buy local. Support your local community of artists, artisans, and farmers! Give an original gift, something you put your own time into, or donate money to charity on your loved ones' behalf! It may not be very "tech-y," but money will be traded amongst people who need it, as opposed to companies who don't.

Larian LeQuella   December 4th, 2008 8:23 am ET

James W   December 4th, 2008 3:48 pm ET

As the Earth had magnetic feilds in every aspect of life I would like to share my magnetic experience that I directlt relate to the atmosphere's magnetic pull... I recently have had chronic back pain and my joints have been all over the place with sharp pain... my blood did not seem to be flowing to where it needed to be... as a atmospheric man I heard about magnetic therapy... as soon as I heard the word magnet I was hooked... all that we know as humans can be traced back a simple device.. the magnet... so for all of my fellow nerds I would like to inform you how my Phiten titanium necklace helped me stay on top of my game and really helped me stay positive to teach and discover all that I can about this great planet by using the atmosphere's pull to increase my bllod flow to enable me to continue my research... I was under the inpression that they help people who move alot.. boy was I wrong.. they help you move yes.. but for me.. they helped me sit there and read!!!!! as bad as it sounds.. it made sitting around all day more confortable!!! To all my fellow space lovers try them!!!!!!

RoidRanger   December 8th, 2008 2:49 pm ET

Consumers be aware!!!

There are a number of sites that should be sued for false advertising or outright misrepresentation.

Case in point: I just found out about it. I read the FAQ on their the site and I cannot believe people are falling for this as an "Auction" site. That is misleading!!!!! It is a GAMBLING site. Please, please, please post something online at to warn unexpecting people about this (especially in these time of economic trouble and people looking for bargains). I watched an "auction" selling a Nintendo DS for over $113 – but behind the scenes just made $565. Its highway robbery, and swoopo is getting away with calling this an "Auction"???!!! This site needs to be shutdown until they re-brand it as GAMBLING!

Hopefully this gets out to people – should do something about this and spread the word!!!

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