Several major retailers-including Target, Fry's Electronics and Buy.com-got burned on Black Friday by a hole in their inventory-checking functionality. The snafu tricked the merchants into selling products to consumers without actually having those products in stock. Among the many Black Friday glitches, this one exposed a flaw that may become increasingly common and might force retailers into a different way of checking inventory.
The problem materialized because this year, for the first time, several e-tailers tried to re-create some of the excitement that surrounds brick-and-mortar Black Friday "consumers-wait-at-2 AM-and-then-stampede-for-half-off-an-HDTV" sales. The idea was to announce some very enticing deals and then to not offer them until midnight while stressing that only a limited number of each item was available. The retailers' campaigns were designed to force a huge number of consumers to hit their e-tail sites at the exact same moment and try to buy the exact same product. If you're looking to stress-test your inventory systems, this is an ideal way to do it.
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