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How Amazon, Chipotle and Macy's Have Potentially Lost Millions on Website Crashes

Is your website ready for an influx of traffic?
How Amazon, Chipotle and Macy's Have Potentially Lost Millions on Website Crashes
Image credit: Amazon
Entrepreneur Staff
Associate Editor, Contributed Content
5 min read

One of the biggest problems any website can have is maintaining site speed and functionality during times of heavy traffic. Perhaps the most notable example of this over the past few years was the website for the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance shopping website that was meant to provide coverage to millions of Americans. 

According to NBC, only six people managed to sign up on the first day.

An influx of website traffic wasn't the only problem for the website, but it certainly was a factor -- according to an article for Time, there were problems with the coding itself -- but the traffic certainly didn't help matters. As then-President Barack Obama said, "The website got overwhelmed by the volume [of people coming to the site -- more than 250,000 people at once]."

And while some might simply chalk this up to a failure of government and bureaucracy, the truth is that major businesses often struggle just as much with this problem as anyone else. Here are some examples of crashing websites that have cost companies millions over the past year.

Related: Amazon Will Let Entrepreneurs Start Their Own Delivery Business and Earn Up to $300,000 a Year

1. Amazon crashed on Prime Day

According to Alexa.com (an Amazon-owned website), Amazon is the fourth most-visited website in the United States and the 10th most popular website in the world. In addition, Amazon Web Services is the world’s largest cloud computing provider, according to an article by Money

So, if anyone should know how to build a platform and website that can withstand massive amounts of traffic, it ought to be Amazon, right? Yet, the company went down on Prime Day.

It might only have lasted an hour, and Amazon claims that 2018 was the best Prime Day in company history, so it wasn't a total loss. But, the fact that Amazon crashed during Prime Day this year proves that this can happen to anyone.

2. Macy's crashed on Black Friday

Everyone knows what Black Friday means for retailers such as Macy's -- it's an all-hands-on-deck environment that can lead to a massive number of sales and chaos. But while the company's Chicago employees seemed to be prepared for that chaos last year, the company's credit card machines struggled. 

So many stores were using the machines at the same time, that employees sometimes had to either enter credit card information manually or else allow the sale to fall through. 

Again, Macy's was able to resolve the issue in a matter of hours, according to an ABC report. They then issued the following statement: 

"We have fully resolved today’s system issues. We highly value our customers and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience today’s system slowdown may have caused during their shopping experience. The delays we experienced this afternoon were due to a capacity-related issue that caused some transactions to take longer to process. We do not anticipate any additional delays."

However, the window had already passed for closing some sales, as in the case of Meghan's tweet -- for the day, at the very least.

Related: Chipotle Isn't Franchising … Yet. Here's What You Can Do in the Meantime.

3. Chipotle crashes on Guac Day

Tuesday was supposed to be Guac Day at Chipotle, where the burrito chain would give away free guac with online or mobile orders. The good news was that many people took Chipotle up on this deal. The bad news was that Chipotle was unprepared for the traffic that came with it, resulting in a crash

This was part of a difficult week for the burrito chain, which also saw an outbreak of food poisoning in Ohio and a subsequent drop in stock prices, per CNBC. However, the company looked to rebound by extending its offer of free guacamole for another day, saying in a statement:

"To thank our customers for their understanding during our challenges today, we’re extending the promo. Get free guac with any entrée ordered online or via the app through Wednesday, while supplies last with no code necessary."

Are you ready for a website promotion?

Running a promotion such as Guac Day or Prime Day can be a great way to drive traffic to your website. Just make sure you're ready for that traffic. You want to make a good first impression, and if your website crashes, there's a chance people won't come back to see everything you have to offer. 

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