Catalogue retailer Argos suffered website problems for a second day yesterday following a revamped design of its site.
Displaying an error message on some, but not all computers, customers were told that access had been blocked due to a “high volume of visitors” but users complained via social media that this was inaccurate because the message was being shown as early as 2am in the morning where a high footfall seemed unlikely.
Preceding the online glitches yesterday, Argos also frustrated customers on Tuesday (28th October) when it took to Twitter to apologise to customers for online problems, saying it was working to fix them as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the website displayed the following message:
“Sorry. We’re offline right now to make our site even better. Please come back later and check out what we’ve been up to.”
A spokeswoman for Argos said failures to properly explain the problem on the webpage was in itself “caused by a technical issue which is currently being fixed”.
Talking to Retail Gazette about the errors, Ian Wells, Vice President of Veeam Software, for North West Europe said
“With the modern, always-on business needing services available 24/7, any amount of downtime is unacceptable. Unfortunately the reality is that prolonged downtime suffered by Argos and its customers isn’t uncommon and yet, as we enter one of the busiest shopping periods of the year, it will clearly be damaging. The fact that this outage stemmed from an attempt to upgrade the Argos website, and so offer a better service to online shoppers, demonstrates the need for complete confidence that any changes to the IT environment will not impact services. Thorough testing of updates and upgrades is crucial to ensure that when they enter the production environment, everything runs smoothly. In order to guarantee 24/7 availability, businesses must leverage other assets, such as their backup environments and data, to ensure that they have an independent testing environment where they can mitigate the risks of upgrading. At the very worst, if critical infrastructure such as a retail website fails, there should be a backup or replica waiting in the wings to ensure that service is resumed as soon as possible.”
The major slip-up by Argos comes after the retailer overhauled some of its stores last year as part of its “digital concept” strategy.