The Importance of an Ecommerce Contingency PlanLast week I blogged about’s experience with launching the Missoni line and how enthusiastic consumers crashed’s servers in the process. One of the key take aways of the post was to have a contingency plan in place in case something like this happens.

But doesn’t a contingency plan usually focus on salvaging the customer experience? Isn’t a contingency plan all about making sure you deliver on your promises, one way or another?

As of Monday mid-morning, word on the Web is that not only did the site crash during the Missoni promotion, now some of those individuals who placed orders for Missoni products are being sent a canned email stating that the Missoni items they ordered are going to be delayed–or worse–completely cancelled.

Ouch. Is this their contingency plan?

The email is reported as saying,

We’re sorry, but we may not be able to deliver your item(s) by the estimated delivery date you received with your original order…If we can’t deliver your items(s) by this new estimated delivery date, we will automatically cancel your order. (Source: CNBC)


Now I understand that if you charge someone’s credit card you have a limited amount of time to legally ship the order, but I would think that a retail giant like Target would have the system in place to authorize a purchase and then complete the charge when the order ships.

Target IS offering the consumer a chance to keep their order from being cancelled, but the consumer has to log in and confirm that they want to keep their order, otherwise it will be cancelled.

(Scratches head.)

I thought giving you my credit card number and clicking “submit” was confirmation that I want my order.

At any rate, the take away for you, dear reader, is to make sure that your ecommerce contingency plan:

  1. Is customer-focused.
  2. Salvages the customer experience.
  3. Encourages the completion of the sale.
  4. Leaves the customer confident that you were concerned with their individual order.

If your contingency plan can make each of your customers feel valued and appreciated, any site problems or failings that they encounter will serve to strengthen their relationship with you, rather than weaken it.

To learn more about how to make your ecommerce initiative a success, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning and Ecommerce Initiative.