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Your worst day in Ecommerce?

Any lessons

     
12:35 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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What was your worst day in Ecommerce? Any lessons you learned?

Hab

2:41 pm on June 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Monday. zero sales. And the worst part is that I don't know why. Sunday was good - Tuesday was ok, but on Monday we had no online sales, no eBay sales and no wholesale phone in orders.

So far today is already over a thousand. Go figure.

3:01 pm on June 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Worst day? Easy, that was when our cheapie screwball cart shut down years ago.

What did we learn? Easy to answer, too. Spend a little more for the best cart and hosting "partners" and start shopping around for new ones when red flags appear.

3:44 pm on June 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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ZERO sales day on an otherwise normally busy day . Server monitor service shows server was up , pages where loading fine ... turns out SSL was just down for the entire day so no secure connections or checkout :/

Lesson learned?

Invest in a GOOD monitoring service that monitors all aspect of your site, including CPU usage (had another day like that due to overloaded CPU by junk processes) . One down day is enough to cost you more than a two years subscription to a decent monitoring service!

4:02 pm on June 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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A rather cobbled together backend for one site a few years ago suffered a server faliure.

The only person who knew how to restore it from the equally cobbled together backups was on holiday and uncontactable for over a week.

We'd just got a mention in a major UK magazine as the place to buy a very hot new product.

We took over a hundred orders for that product over the phone from people who tried and failed to buy it online. I don't even want to think about how many sales we missed.

Lesson: if anything can go wrong it will, and at the worst possible moment.

5:21 pm on June 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Lesson: if anything can go wrong it will, and at the worst possible moment.

And that is always Friday evening before a three day holiday. LOL! (heat and A/C always goes out then, too)

Lesson: never do anything really hazardous on a friday or weekend.

6:54 pm on June 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Bad sales days we take in stride. The *really* bad days are customers who call up raving about a $10 item that hasn't arrived, when we go through a good deal of trouble to insure safe arrival of their stuff. We were just discussing this, it's always the low-dollar customers who won't pay for priority mail or delivery cofirmation that call up raving that it's our responsibility to "absorb" delivery confirmation or tracking.

Lesson learned: don't let the bad apples ruin your day, it's easy to take it personally when you go WAY out of your way to please even the smallest sales.

7:08 pm on June 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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it's easy to take it personally when you go WAY out of your way to please even

I agree with you on that one , its worst when you spend an hour with a customer on the phone explaining the product, taking the order and then getting a chargeback for Service Not Rendered or Not as described!

7:24 pm on June 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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My worst day was this past February when my payment processor notified me by mail that they were discontinuing servicing my business. They said outright that it was nothing I had done. No large number of chargebacks or risky behavior. In fact, in six years I'd had six chargebacks. They just didn't want to deal with me anymore and were refusing to tell me why. I tried repeatedly to talk to the person who'd written the letter. Wouldn't return a call or even answer her phone. Hiding under her desk like some teenager. They never responded. I later found that they had actually done this to many other businesses. I had to conclude that they had grown enough that they did not want to deal with pipsqueaks anymore. I had 30 days to find a new processor--and I have no credit. I've never used any credit cards since 1985. One of those oddballs who just doesn't want to. Nevertheless, I lucked out and found a payment processor. I then ended up having to void a lot of transactions that could not be transferred over to the new payment processor. And having to email all those customers with some explanation a customer could understand. And having to recollect their numbers, etc. And that same month, I had to move because the building I was in was literally collapsing, a move that was certainly unplanned and that meant leaving behind a lot of stock that was in the frozen ground. Plus the fun of moving in February in upstate NY. I am lucky my business survived at all, and I am still recovering from it two months later.

Moral of the story--don't depend on credit card sales. That is what I have been working on since--finishing a book on a topic that is related to my business niche. I know it is publishable and that I will be able to give talks and workshops based on it.

7:57 pm on June 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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.....it's always the low-dollar customers who won't pay for priority mail or delivery cofirmation that call up raving.....

A little off the question, but so so true. If the niche includes a high proportion of low dollar customers, as one of ours does, there will be days when the customer service demands simply aren't worth providing. And people that use checks and money orders fall in the same class. They'll order today, and call tomorrow wanting to know if we've gotten the money order, where the package is at.....:)) Small dollar customers are always the most trouble - but it the niche is a good one they'll be back again and again and again. Once they trust you they will typically relax and conduct themselves more professionally.

8:06 pm on June 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Went through a phase just after Christmas where by many, many orders were not getting delivered.

Cleared up now though

6:34 am on June 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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>> Went through a phase just after Christmas where by many, many orders were not getting delivered.

Any specific reason, lessons learned :)

Habtom

11:32 am on June 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Bad day: My payment processors website went down due to a ddos attack.

Lesson learned: Use PayPal as a backup processor, even if you hate them, they are better than losing sales.

1:40 pm on June 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The other one we've had was getting a letter from an 800lb gorilla saying that our then most succesful domain, which we'd been trading from for 18 months, was in violation of their trademark.

Lesson learned: Trademarks aren't a joke, and it doesn't matter if you think you have a good case if you can't afford to fight it.

1:50 pm on June 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I lost the trademark one too.
11:40 pm on June 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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*hroth said*: 'My worst day was this past February when my payment processor notified me by mail that they were discontinuing servicing my business. They said outright that it was nothing I had done. No large number of chargebacks or risky behavior. In fact, in six years I'd had six chargebacks. They just didn't want to deal with me anymore and were refusing to tell me why. I tried repeatedly to talk to the person who'd written the letter. Wouldn't return a call or even answer her phone. Hiding under her desk like some teenager. They never responded. I later found that they had actually done this to many other businesses. I had to conclude that they had grown enough that they did not want to deal with pipsqueaks anymore. I had 30 days to find a new processor--and I have no credit. I've never used any credit cards since 1985. One of those oddballs who just doesn't want to. Nevertheless, I lucked out and found a payment processor. I then ended up having to void a lot of transactions that could not be transferred over to the new payment processor. And having to email all those customers with some explanation a customer could understand. And having to recollect their numbers, etc. And that same month, I had to move because the building I was in was literally collapsing, a move that was certainly unplanned and that meant leaving behind a lot of stock that was in the frozen ground. Plus the fun of moving in February in upstate NY. I am lucky my business survived at all, and I am still recovering from it two months later.
Moral of the story--don't depend on credit card sales. That is what I have been working on since--finishing a book on a topic that is related to my business niche. I know it is publishable and that I will be able to give talks and workshops based on it.

I couldnt agree more. We are just starting out with credit card processing and jsut setting it up with worldpay is alreayd ruining my life!

I can imagine that if 'a' payment gateway decides they dont want your business.
your business is in big big trouble....

Unless, like us, you accept cheques and then activate the clients paid for online service on clearance of said cheque.

We do lose out on converting maybe 35-40% (estimated) of visitors into customers though.

A lot of people just want to "click and collect"!

10:23 pm on June 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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worst day was a zero sale day that is normally busy. no orders in the morning, hmmm. none by noon, interesting, none by 3pm, what is going. checked the site, called people out of state to place test orders, called my hosting company, all normal, clicktracks and internal system showed visitors, ranking check was same o same o.

by 8pm, i was dumbstruck. nothing. next morning, everything back to normal, orders as usual, no emails or phone calls saying "i was trying to order online.....".

Weirdest part is we never figured out any logical reason. But it was terrifying while it lasted.

8:17 am on June 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

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zero sales

One fine morning, one of our payment gateways suddenly developed snags which could not rectified immediately.

Worse still, the processing time fluctuated and it took a total shutdown to bring back it into normalcy

And these non technical morons are just blaming me for this mess

5:38 pm on June 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Any specific reason, lessons learned - No reason that I could except that I was posting these orders from a radically diffrent post office many miles from my normal one.

I suspect that there was theft from the post office or the items were arriving a diffrent receiving port than when I post from home.

3:01 am on June 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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my worst day

last pre christmas - n, dec 7th - my host (who is a reseller for a server company in Housten TX) was having spam issues on the server my site happenes to be on. As i sent a mass email the night before, my site was flagged as a POSSIBLE source for spam. That morning - the host turned off my scripts (reset security or sumthin) and no sales came in for 15 hours (and for an etailer who sells unique gifts in prristmas) was the worst timing. Found out 6 hours witin and it took another 9 hours for my host to fix, as it was a complicated server issue. Took into account the sales i should of made and the advertising and PPC in that pre christmas time cost me almost $5,000.

Lesson: The guy is not my host anymore...

3:56 pm on June 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Part 1: One day received 7 dispute letters from AMEX totalling over $7,000. Immediately contacted the company who disputed the charges, who admitted their mistake (the manager who pays the bills didn't receognize the charges and just creid fraud to AMEX before asking the employees who made the charges), and they contacted AMEX. The next day got a letter from AMEX saying our merchant account was terminated for excessive fraudulent charges! Spent the next week jumping through hoops and getting everything cleared up and finally being told by AMEX that the issue was closed. Meanwhile, several other charges werer sitting in limbo because they had been submitted between the time AMEX cancelled the merchant account and the time we were finally notified of it.

Part 2: Two months later, suddenly got a chargeback letter for over $3,000 (and had the money removed from or bank account), which it turned out was related to the earlier problem. (Why AMEX suddenly decided to issue a chargeback for some of the transactions 2 months after we (and the customer) were told by several people at AMEX that the issue was closed is a question that NO ONE at AMEX could answer.) I (and the customer) had to spend the next 2 weeks speaking with over a dozen people in 2 different departments at AMEX before the issue was (finally?) resolved and we had the money returned to our account.

What did we learn? That AMEX doersn't care at all about the merchant side of the house. According to them, the customer is alwayss right. Period. So we have removed AMEX as a payment option except for a few existing customers.

4:22 am on June 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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One of the Gateways in our website is through CC Avenue.

They have a technical team who knew nothing technical. I have to guide them and guide myself for integration.

On one of my off days, I recieved three transactions through CC Avenue. All the three were done by the same person.

But CC Avenue gave a High Risk Fraud Alert for one of the transactions and other two were cleared.

It took calls on our end to clear the tag.So confusing.

8:19 am on June 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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It seems when problems do come, they are highly likely to be generated from the hosting companies, the payment processors and the suppliers.

If you can add up to the list I would appreciate it.

8:52 am on June 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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by 8pm, i was dumbstruck. nothing.

Blimey ridgway. How did you sleep that night?

8:57 am on June 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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>> How did you sleep that night?

May be he didn't, what was your worst moment chodges84?

4:11 pm on June 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Speaking of hosting company problems... (This actually just predated our ramp up to ecommerce, but the lesson is certainly relevant.)

We needed our hosting company to add a new virtual directory, which is where all the includes would be for headers, footers, etc. It was to be named "AAA_AAA" and I explicitly pointed out that it was an underscore and not a dash. After taking them 2 days to figure out how to do that (red flag, red flag!), they said it was done. Stupidly, I uploaded all the new code without verifying it (my bad). As you can imagine, they setup the directory as "AAA-AAA" and every page on the site threw an error.

It took them another day to fix the problem (after several messages back from them that they DID set it up as we asked, to which I sent copies of the original message I sent them and pointed out how they did NOT set it up correctly). Unfortunately, I didn't have backup copies of the code before the change (my bad #2). Fortunately, this was our secondary site and it wasn't getting much traffic yet. And fortunately we used that learning experience to get our own server (and a different hosting company) before we had more severe problems that might have affected our revenue streams.

Lesson #1: Do not use shared hosting for any mission critical sites.

Lesson #2: Do not use that hosting company for ANY sites.

Lesson #3: ALWAYS test major changes like that with non-public test pages before uploading all the changes.

5:43 pm on June 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I learnt esson 3 a long time ago.

Recently took an order the delivery and the card holders address was verified as correct.

About a week later I get a complaint via the payment processor - Customer states - 'Why didnt you tell me you use USPS for your shipping?' goes on to explain that the shipping address given wouldnt be able to receive order. Despite it being a mainstream USA street address.

Nothing on the site or any emails from me up to this point stated that we didnt ship via teh bog standard postal service.

He now wants the order shipped to a PO box, to late.

Why do I suspect that this was preplanned? Maybe a common tactic that I would imagine he has used previously to get free goods.

If he attempts a charge back ill fight it. All for $22.

6:06 pm on June 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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About a week later I get a complaint via the payment processor - Customer states - 'Why didnt you tell me you use USPS for your shipping?' goes on to explain that the shipping address given wouldnt be able to receive order. Despite it being a mainstream USA street address.

Clearly identifying how things are shipped is critical.

We are located in a fairly rural area. The result is that we have a PO Box in one nearby (10 miles away) town, and a street address in another nearby (8 miles away) town. We do not have mail delivery at the street address!

USPS goes to the PO Box.

UPS/FedEX goes to the street address.

I can not count the times that delivery has been screwed up. This is true even when I put explicit instructions in the comments area on an order form. "If shipping USPS, please send to PO Box. If via other carrier, deliver to street address..."

6:53 pm on June 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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USPS goes to the PO Box.
UPS/FedEX goes to the street address.

this is why i offer both in checkout, each option displayed near the trademarked logo of the shipping company.

need to cover all basis, or the bad guys will get you

8:39 pm on June 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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People mentioning sitting there not getting any sales all day... This has happened to me periodically. There's no rhyme or reason to it. I think it is just a part of the deal when you are a retailer that you get these freakish dips in sales sometimes. You just have to let go of the worry about something like that. I know--easier said than done.

I only wish such a day was my worst day, though.

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