Internet Marketing

Sears Surprised by Black Friday Traffic. Cough.

So, Sears, you didn’t expect a lot of people on your web site today, the biggest single shopping day of the year?
A few minutes later, we saw this:
Target is up. So is JCPenney, Costco, Walmart, etc.. Too bad for Sears…

CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at

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  1. The Sears web team seems to have some pretty consistent scalability problems. About a year ago, they posted hundreds of Wii systems for sale and the website threw up a range of problems.
    One minute the site would time out or sit, the next order processing wouldn’t work, the website would non-deterministically show different pages after clicking the same link. And the Back button was literally a Magic-8 ball: add one, remove one (not all), teleport, etc.
    It’s 2008, these are all solved problems — or maybe Sears just doesn’t expect a lot of people to shop there…

  2. It gets better. Their site is up today. So I found the item I wanted. Put it in my cart. Selected pick up at Sears store from their shipping options. It then checked all the stores in my area for availability. I chose the one 2 miles from my house and finished the purchase process.
    20 minutes later I get an email from Sears.
    Dear Customer,
    Unfortunately, we checked with your local store at SEARS STORES and discovered that one or more of the item(s) in your ORDER #XXXXXXX / SALESCHECK #XXXXXXXX were not in stock.
    5 Drawer Homeowner Roll-Away
    Item #: XXXXXXXXX
    As a result, we have cancelled this order, and no charges pertaining to this order will be reflected on your credit card.
    So I wasted 20 minutes buying nothing from them once again. Even now, if you go to their site they will tell you that item is available at the very same store.

  3. Wow, I’m not even sure how I’d react if I got an email like that. It’s almost like you put in the order and someone had to call the store to see if they had the item in stock.
    No dice? Template email. Given their track record, it wouldn’t be shocking if there were a store 4 miles (vs. 2) from your house that had 50 of them!

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