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E-Commerce Horror Stories: Halloween Edition Part 1

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 12/10/2015 Amit Bhaiya
JACK O LANTERN © Getty JACK O LANTERN

The leaves are turning and sweaters are coming out -- fall has finally arrived! We have reached the season of bonfires, apple cider, trick or treating and spooky stories. Not to mention the kick off of the holiday season.
In light of Halloween, we would like you to sit back with a warm pumpkin spice latte as we share a few eCommerce horror stories that are bound to give you goosebumps. Not all horror stories involve ghost and goblins, for eCommerce retailers horror can begin with a functionality fail and end with a decrease in sales. This is truly a nightmare in the world of eCommerce. Can you relate to these tales?

The Halloween Hiccup: It had been a lucrative week for Bill's Baked Goods, sales were steady and orders were flowing. October had arrived and business was at its' normal pace. What more could Bill ask for? Bill runs Bill's Baked Goods, an online retailer that sells custom made cupcakes- and according to customers they were scrumptious. This was Bill's first entrepreneurial endeavor and things were looking great. Little did Bill know, his luck was about to change. Monday came and to Bill's surprise his orders were at a record low.
His heart sunk, what in the world just happened? He frantically went into the system, were things in place? Did the site go down? What was this unforeseen decrease in sales? Everything looked fine. As he pondered this mystery a light went on in his head, what had his competitor Carissa's Cupcakes been up to this weekend? His jaw dropped, there it was on the homepage banner: 50% off all orders through now until HALLOWEEN! Holy smokes, HALLOWEEN? That was 2 weeks away! How could he have not thought of this? As he rummaged through their site he discovered they had been running special holiday themed promotions for the past month! The whole site was decked out from top to bottom in Halloween d├ęcor and had banners running on all pages displaying discounts and specials.
As Carissa's sales doubled, Bill's sales took a hit. A hard lesson learned to break into the holidays. Bill's team buckled up and immediately put a plan in place for the remainder of the year. No chance Bill was going to be spooked like that again!
Moral of the story: Plan in advance, you snooze you lose. Devising a strategy to increase sales and provide competitive prices during the holiday season is crucial for customer retention. For inspiration, do some research to see what your competitors have offered in previous years. Start the holidays off strong, don't be the last one to start the race.

Freaky Friday: Halloween season had arrived! Chloe's Candy was ready for their busiest time of the year with the perfect social media and web promotion plan in place. They spent months preparing for the onslaught of customers coming their way -- or so they thought. As Friday morning approached the email blast went out, the social media campaign went live and their website was "Halloweenified" with promotions dominating each page. Chloe's Candy couldn't wait for business to start booming over the weekend! Unfortunately for them, they forgot one huge thing -- ensuring their fulfillment system -- Ship Works was battle ready.
As the orders came rushing in from omni-channels their biggest nightmare quickly became reality -- Ship Works had crashed. The ability to consolidate real time data was at a cease. Orders quickly began backing up, time and resources were spent on fixing the problem rather than selling and time sensitive orders had to be canceled. A week that was meant to be profitable ended up being complete chaos.
Does this sound familiar to you? Sadly, this is something that new online business owners often face during their first holiday season. Neglecting to test your fulfillment system and not arranging the proper selling channels for B2B can lead to disaster. It's important to have information ready in real time for both your internal team and B2B customers. Providing each customer with a smooth experience from start to finish is essential for success.
Moral of the story: Failing to test your system will not only hurt you financially but could possibly damage your reputation. One bad experience is enough for a customer to shop elsewhere, especially if they are buying in bulk. What do we know about reputation? It's pretty much all you've got. All it takes is a few disgruntled customers to put you on the defensive.

Want to share your story? Comment below! We will be writing a Part 2 within the next couple weeks to share your eCommerce nightmares with our audience. Stay tuned for more Halloween Horrors!

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