Information on Flash Sale, and an important Apology.

Two days ago we had our 7th hour by hour flash sale. Which has been run several times in the past under different names.

At its peak, we had in attendance close to 120,000 simultaneous visitors. During the course of the day there were over 250,000 people visiting.

Below are the sales figures for each item featured:

  • Havaianas $1 – 436
  • Ranger Hard Shell Laptop Case $10 – 445
  • Samsung LED Monitor $149 – 246
  • Samsung 12MP Camera $29 – 106
  • Nintendo Wii $149 – 103
  • Logitech Dock $5 – 107
  • Samsung S2 640GB HDD $29 – 110
  • Sennheiser Headphones $15 – 514
  • Mystery 4 Item Box $10 – 2420
  • Wireless Mouse $10 – 105
  • Call of Duty Black Ops $29 – 111
  • Battery Charger $5 – 260

As exciting a sale it was, unfortunately, there are a few areas that we fell short of the mark:

  • Server capacity/bandwidth. Our rate of growth has not been matched by the brawn of our servers.
  • Checkout/stock reservation. Due to the nature of our inventory system, stock cannot be reserved simply by adding items to cart, and people who make it through to even later stages of checkout are not guaranteed a confirmed order.
  • With such a huge turnout, many left empty handed. With 120,000 people hammering the site for a Wii, there are going to be many people upset.

Here’s the actions we are taking for each issue:

  • Server upgrades. In the month of January we are upgrading to a platform designed by the whizzes at IBM. Its called “Websphere” and the system is worth over $1,000,000 (no kidding). You can read more about it here: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/websphere/ This upgrade should give us a huge boost. Our current bottleneck is with our database servers, and IBM platforms currently have been proven to be able to handle many times our current load. Our original plan was to have launched this new platform in June 2010, however, as most IT development projects go, there are numerous setbacks that occur along the way. We seem to now be on track for late January 2011.
  • Stock reservation system. With the upgrade to the new system, we will have the ability to activate a feature called “timed shopping cart”. This means that on special events such as from the day before, when you add an item to your cart, the stock will be reserved for you and you will have a limited time to complete checkout.
  • Larger quantities. For our next event, we will make sure there are a few crazy deals available in very large numbers, making sure that as many people as possible have a chance to bite on a bargain during the day. Having said that – with the numbers we are looking at, it’s an incredible challenge.

I hope that all the above has been enlightening.

I would like to finish with a sincere apology, for those that found the event more frustrating than fun. As always our intentions are to dazzle and not to disappoint. Please bear with us as we work on the weaknesses of the event. You have to agree – its an exciting formula, something worth patience, effort and improvement.

At the same time, we strongly believe that this is the kind of event that not everyone would find enjoyable and some people are simply better off giving these types of sales a miss. Some of us enjoy standing in line at 6am on the morning of Boxing Day sales, and some of us prefer sleeping in.

Nevertheless, whoever you are we deeply appreciate the membership, patronage and loyalty of every one of you, without you we would not be where we are today. After reading the feedback many of you have provided, we chose to be completely transparent and reveal information most companies would never reveal.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and we wish you all the best over the next month as you organise your busy schedules in preparation for the festive season.