By Kiersten Bagley
'Tis the season for family and friends, get togethers and celebrations, and inevitably gift purchasing and giving. As our world continues to evolve into more and more of a digital one, the methods in which we are preparing to purchase those gifts is becoming more and more reliant on eCommerce.
More than 85% of Americans access the internet and 65% will browse and shop for products online this holiday season alone. This doesn’t mean everyone is turning to big retailers like Amazon, though. Small businesses really have a chance to shine online, especially when the search is on for special gifts and campaigns to “shop local” and “shop small” are in full force.
I myself was browsing Reddit last night and saw a post about a small online retailer who included a handwritten note on the package shipped to the buyer. Being that I am also a sucker for great customer service and happy stories of entrepreneurship, I decided to see what type of products urturt.com had to offer. Apparently, so did thousands of other Redditors.
As one user commented, it was the “Reddit hug of death” - the site could not handle the traffic and went down, just when it received the ultimate form of organic (unpaid!), viral advertising that had the potential to make a serious, significant impact on sales and brand visibility.
I am sure the guys at urturt are working hard to ensure that their website is back in functioning order after the surge of users; I’ll continue to try to browse their products and watch for some social media reaction or statement from leadership. However, the Reddit post now has over 41,000 views in less than 24 hours and many of those people (potential customers!) may not try back later, especially as posts within r/pics become more numerous and the original post gets pushed down further away from the front page.
This unfortunate urturt issue is yet another piece of evidence that your website should be functioning, stable and supported, no matter your size. Your website’s appearance and functionality can mean the difference between the best sales day of the year and the worst.
Think of it as you would prepare your home for holiday guests: make sure your entryway is clear, access to food or drinks is easy and all the halls are decked. Shouldn’t your website reflect those preparations as well? Will you be able to handle the high volume if more guests arrive than you expected? Will your website be able to offer easy access to all the products and services you would like users to purchase? If your business, brand or organization goes viral, can you accommodate all your guests and deliver the right message?