The endless aisle of the Internet suffered a rare hiccup Saturday evening as shoppers reported Amazon’s web site wasn’t working.
People on social media reported the outage, which started around 6 p.m. and lasted for about 30 minutes on Amazon.com, its mobile site and its Canadian site. Users complained that all the items that they placed in their cart were listed unavailable. Amazon has not addressed the cause of the error and did not respond to requests for comment.
One of the busiest online shopping days of the year, so-called “Super” Saturday, was expected to bring in up to $1.5 billion in total online sales, according to Adobe Digital Insights. On Amazon, sales after Cyber Weekend were up an average of 54 percent, according to One Click Retail manager partner Spencer Millerberg. An outage like this could cost the e-commerce behemoth millions in sales.
During the down period Saturday, Amazon users reportedly received the following error message: “Oops! We’re very sorry, but we’re having trouble doing what you just asked us to do. Please give us another chance — click the back button on your browser and try your request again. Or start from the beginning on our home page.”
Amazon, despite being the leading e-commerce destination, is not immune to outages. An August 2013 crash lasting 45 minutes reportedly cost the site an estimated $4.72 million.
“Given that it was Super Saturday, it is a positive indicator for the high traffic Amazon is getting — assuming it wasn’t a hack, but the weight of the traffic,” said retail analyst Mortimer Singer, who is chief executive officer at Marvin Traub Associates.
In October, Amazon was part of a cyber attack that affected web sites such as PayPal, Twitter, Etsy and Pinterest. It was a domain denial of services attack on popular DNS provider Dyn, and some cyber security experts say that these attacks could become the new normal.
This holiday shopping season is expected to set online sales records, with Black Friday shopping going increasingly online and customers turning to mobile devices to browse and make purchases both during typical shopping periods such as Cyber Weekend, and in the days closer to Christmas. This year, Amazon reported that Black Friday was one of the busiest mobile shopping days on Amazon in the U.S., with more mobile app orders than on either Cyber Monday or Black Friday last year.