online, Retail

Customers stopped from checkout in Myer “Super Saturday” site glitch: Lessons in e-commerce communications

Emma Koehn /

Myer opened its “Super Saturday” sale to online shoppers last Friday night, but several customers were met with timeouts and a “digital waiting room” when they tried to pay for items, and have since taken to Facebook to complain about the not so super service.

On social media a Myer representative explained the site was experiencing high levels of traffic and expressed hope that frustrated shoppers were able to place their orders.

Some shoppers had error messages each time they selected an item on a mobile device, with a customer service representative telling one customer on Facebook that the desktop site was “more reliable” than the mobile offering.

However, associate professor at QUT Business School Gary Mortimer says the suggestion that a desktop site would work better is a problematic answer from the retailer given the rise in mobile commerce.

“That’s completely ridiculous,” he told SmartCompany.

“There’s been a significant decline in desktop and if your site’s not mobile ready, Google will push you down the list.”

The department store responded individually to customers experiencing troubles. Crisis communications expert Nicole Matejic says that the message for cases like website dropouts is clear – communicate early and often.

“In terms of communicating with people, don’t take the [Australian] Census model of communication,” she says.

Giving people an option of highlighting what they were trying will also help with customer goodwill and alleviate the frustrations of shoppers who feel like they might be missing out, she says.

“Offer solutions, if you’re stuck on the screenshot and it’s hanging, take a screenshot and say we’ll make good on the deal,” Matejic says.

But founder of new retail industry collective NORA Paul Greenberg says that while the department store may have suffered a hiccup, overall Myer is doing well when it comes to growing its slice of online sales.

“Their financial results are showing 79% growth [in online],” Greenberg told SmartCompany.

“It should be noted they are actually doing very well in e-commerce.”

When it comes to the online retail space, Greenberg says virtually every operation has experienced at least some kind of hiccup and customers are good at dealing with them.

“I think customers are amazingly tolerant, as long as they are communicated with,” he says, adding that when a company is able to solve a problem for a customer, they often keep that shopper for longer.

“You’ve got to see problems in retail as an opportunity.”

SmartCompany contacted Myer but the company declined to comment on the issue.

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is SmartCompany's senior journalist.

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  • Zeafer

    This is a symptom of old school thinking in a modern world. Here’s an idea – its an online sale. You could even segment your audience (and hence traffic) and appear to be even more personalised! What if you let anyone who registers to have a discount code which gives the same access across the week? What if you segmented your database, or even grew it, by letting X number of simultaneous users in, then asking people to register and giving them a ticket so they can come back at a later time with guaranteed access or a discount code that lasts a week?

    “Oh, we’re a bit swamped right now. But register here, and if you come back at the designated time we’ll give you a bonus of XYZ…” Now I’m not only happy, but I feel like I get a special bonus (even if it’s only free shipping or a trinket or free gift wrapping or whatever). Plus you have a bigger database…