The website I built had too many bugs and Christmas sales were a disaster

I really didn’t like the website. It didn’t have enough functionality.  It was three years old and looked outdated. I made it myself because it was too expensive to have it done professionally. The time was tight though; the Christmas sales season started, which was an added stress.

In the beginning, it was relatively easy. I was putting up new products, updating stock numbers, and making sure new orders were sent out. Friends tried out the updated site and all the functionality worked when I tested it out.

The site went live on November 10. Sales were good, but some of the products couldn’t make it through checkout. I also couldn’t update stock levels. By the end of the week, I couldn’t tell if product availability was accurate. We were out of stock, but people were still able to order on the site. I panicked and started to make adjustments manually.

As sales increased, it was chaos. We lost control of our stock, didn’t have an updated catalog, and couldn’t adjust invoices for discounts. We made hundreds of manual adjustments and planned to sort out everything after the new year though the problems were getting worse everyday.

We fell way short of our sales targets. By the middle of January, we realized we didn’t have any real idea of our inventory. We had customer returns that we couldn’t process and people were contacting us to say their Christmas gifts were never delivered.

We never should have launched so close to Christmas. We should have tested the new site more thoroughly and made sure the payment systems were robust. We learned that no matter how good our products were, we needed to have world class support systems. This mess took us six months to sort out. We lost loyal customers and we almost ran out of cash.

As we prepared for growth, we got the technology part right but overlooked training and organization

We built a platform that allows local craftsmen and artisans to sell their products globally. It took us six months and over $350K to complete the work. We knew it could handle over 40 transactions per hour and this could be doubled with some added capacity at some additional cost.

The platform was featured in India Today magazine and all of a sudden orders started pouring in. Sales soared and on a good day, we’d have 20 orders per hour, so there was excess capacity on the platform.

Last week we started to get consumer complaints. Orders were late or not fulfilled. They received the wrong product or color or it was broken when it arrived.

The biggest problem was stock outs. The craftsmen didn’t know how to update their available stock accurately. If they sold something, it stayed up on the website. New products didn’t make it on the site. Clothing sizes were off.

At a review meeting, one team member said, “We spent all our time and resources on the technology and no time on organization and training. No wonder we’re in such a mess.”