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The 5 big brands bitten by online retail and marketing mistakes

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Social media has provided businesses of all shapes and sizes the means to reach an audience in an instant, but like Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben was fond of saying, “with great power comes great responsibility”.

For example, 1903-founded vehicle manufacturer Ford has been able to become a digital leader with its social media strategy that simply encourages common sense, honesty, kindness and a helpful reminder that the internet always remembers.

The latter is quite right. McDonald’s introduced a #McDStories hashtag back in 2012, using a paid promotional tactic to push it into users’ timelines and make them aware about how kind the company is when it comes to ethically sourcing ingredients. Naturally, this blew up in the fast food firm’s face as people shared their McDonald’s nightmares with the hashtag instead – a trend that still continues today.

As such, we’ve highlighted five online blunders you should be careful to avoid when selling and marketing on the web.

In particular, we recommend you keep an eye on the pricing of your products and also any campaigns that may require the use of acronyms.

Amazon

In mid December 2014, prime shopping time ahead of Christmas, Amazon made something of a technical boo-boo.

The result meant that the thousands of items were reduced to just 1p each. Yep, everything from mattresses to headphones to clothing, notching up tens of thousands of pounds worth of losses for many of the site’s small and medium-sized business users.

Indeed, one seller of toys and games said the ecommerce error resulted in people buying up to 100 items at a time, generating some 1,600 orders in an hour. By the time he took his store offline, he had sold more than £30,000 worth of stock, which customers were allowed to retain.

Elsewhere, a merchant selling TVs and mobile phones saw one customer purchase 59 of the latter for a penny each.

Amazon achieved sales of $89bn in 2014, which was a growth on the $74bn and $61bn notched up respectively in 2013 and 2012, yet the company refused to compensate its business users who were sat on the brink of bankruptcy and denied liability.

The online retail giant passed the buck and blamed the third party payment software provider RepricerExpress, recommending the shortchanged sellers contact the company to be recompensed.

Adding insult to injury, Amazon signed email correspondence off with “have a nice day”.

More recently in July 2015, the company introduced a Prime Day shopping promotion that failed to surprise and delight its customers.

PayPal

As one door closes another one opens, as the saying goes. Amazon may have been immovable when it came to paying its business users back after they lost thousands of pounds, but PayPal – which is owned by online retail marketplace eBay – was slightly more generous.

By slightly generous, what we really mean is the payments service mistakenly transferred $92 quadrillion to US-based Chris Reynolds, who briefly became the richest man in the world.

Explaining that he’d been a user of PayPal for ten years to buy and sell, generally spending around $100 a month, he discovered via an email statement that his account had been boosted with a total of $92,233,720,368,547,800.

Unfortunately for the 56 year-old, his account had been reduced back to zero by the time he logged on to soak up his newfound wealth.

“This was obviously an error and we appreciate that Mr Reynolds understands this was the case,” PayPal said in a statement, adding that it would make a charity donation of Reynolds’ choice.

Wonder if Amazon would still deny liability if it made the same mistake.

Continue reading on the next page to see where Warner Bros, Burger King and Krispy Kreme went wrong.

Image: Shutterstock

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