Jason Del Rey

Recent Posts by Jason Del Rey

Walmart.com Stumbles on Thanksgiving Ahead of Big Holiday Shopping Weekend

Thanksgiving wasn’t the smoothest of holidays for Walmart.com.

Frustrated customers took to Twitter on Thursday, Thanksgiving morning, to complain about website difficulties that prevented them from reaching checkout pages on Walmart.com.

One shopper, who goes by @Wayne_In_Akron on Twitter, told AllThingsD in an email that he tried unsuccessfully for five hours to proceed from his shopping cart, which held 12 items, to checkout, but kept hitting an error page with the message, “Due to technical difficulties, we can’t show the page you’re trying to get to. What would like to do?”

He ultimately gave up on completing the purchase.

A senior e-commerce industry exec also told AllThingsD that he was unable to reach Walmart’s checkout page between 9 am and 12:45 pm ET on Thursday.

As of 10:52 pm ET on Thursday, the website Sitedown.co displayed 101 Walmart.com complaints over the previous 24 hours, compared to 51 in total for the entire previous week.

Walmart.com spokesman Ravi Jariwala said the company was aware of similar incidents, but that they were “isolated issues.”

“We’re actually having a strong day,” he said late Thursday evening. “There may have been instances based on some really high volume, but those should all be going through all fine. We’re not seeing any type of systemic checkout issues or outages.”

Later in the day on Thursday, Twitter lit up with different complaints about the Walmart Web experience: The webpage Walmart set up for customers to take advantage of a promotion dubbed “1-Hour In Stock Guarantee” struggled mightily under the weight of customers returning from physical Walmart stores to complete orders online for items that were were out of stock but still guaranteed to them before Christmas.

Jariwala acknowledged the issues, but said that customers are being moved into “virtual waiting rooms,” and should eventually be able to complete their order. They can also visit the site anytime between now and Sunday evening to complete the order, and, if necessary, Walmart “will extend the time for everyone to register.”

I asked him if there was a certain amount of simultaneous traffic that Walmart simply couldn’t plan for.

“We’ve taken a lot of preparations, and we’ve stress-tested and done all of those preparations,” he said. “There is also a point where the load that we’re seeing right now coming through is just really, really high.”

Jariwala also noted that Walmart has expanded the number of products available this year under the guarantee promotion to around 20, from just three last year. Still, the company is not second-guessing that decision, he insisted.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work