String of Target outages causes uproar on social media
According to our 2019 State of Enterprise IT report, “brand damage” is one of the biggest impacts of poor end-user experience. If you needed an example of what this looks like in action, look no further than Target’s recent string of bad luck and the ensuing social media fallout.
On Sunday, June 16th, the company experienced an outage that impacted registers across the brand’s 1,849 stores. Without the ability to process any payments in-store, the company was forced to shut down locations across the United States during peak weekend shopping times -- for the second time in as many days.
A similar technical glitch was to blame for an outage that took place on Saturday (June 15) that stretched on for nearly two hours. Shoppers, who were turned away or stuck in line for the better part of the afternoon as the outage stretched past the 90-minute mark, were quick to air their grievances on social media, and the images of in-store mayhem quickly went viral.
Terrible video but had to share. Employees handing out chips. Starbucks handing out drinks. Customers offering their baskets to strangers trying to hold all of their items. Sometimes the most uncomfortable situations can actually bring out the best of human nature. #targetdown pic.twitter.com/iI3owraDoX— Hunter Sowards (@huntersowards3) June 15, 2019
All of the registers are down at Target. They’re passing out rations to appease the crowd pic.twitter.com/FmlbHG7iii— Wesley Boutilier (@WesleyBout) June 15, 2019
While initially blamed on an “internal technical issue,” both incidents were attributed to payments service NCR, a third-party vendor that supports Target locations coast-to-coast. The retailer was quick to make it clear that this was an issue with data center hardware, yet posed no security threat, nor did it represent a data breach, ala the headline-grabbing incident that affected Target stores back in 2013.
Data breach or not, the outage was still a bad look for the brand, especially on the heels of Target’s announcement earlier in the week that it was entering the same-day-delivery game to better compete with rivals Amazon and Walmart. With chronic issues affecting the company’s in-store technology, it’s going to be hard for consumers to view the brand as a tech-forward operation that can support its digital operations with the same expertise that shoppers have come to expect from the competition.
The lesson here is that large enterprise operations with a massive network of branch locations can’t afford to be reactive when network issues arise, even if the blame eventually lands on a third party. These businesses need to employ network monitoring tools that alert IT to issues anywhere along the network path almost immediately, empowering them to take a pre-active approach to a speedy resolution, minimizing the amount of time disgruntled users (or in this case customers) have to air their grievances publicly.