johnideal wrote:First post!
Alright, I'm admittedly a bit new to the collecting game (in this field at least), but not at all to the web game.
Dynamic server and db scaling solutions are available and cheap. They need not be permanent, but focused specifically at times when increased traffic is anticipated.
It really boils down to the competence of those creating / running the site. There is officially no reason to have a site that doesn't scale to meet traffic demands, contrary to what most here say.
Well, I agree that there is a semi-flaw in the argument that myself and others have made that it doesn't make sense to pay for equipment you only use a few times a year - which is that (I assume) most little shops don't own any of the actual equipment hosting the site. Maybe a colo or dedicated server at BEST... but the quality of their hosts service (available bandwidth, scalability, support, etc) does affect the costs, so the fundamental argument (it takes money to fix the problem) is sound.
I've never run a small shop (and have no knack for business anyway) but I believe you are overestimating the size of some of these places. I think you are looking at places with 5 or fewer employees and sales of under 100k/month. Certainly they have no full time I.T. staff and are going to go in as cheap as possible.
Scalability isn't something easily obtained, as I'm sure you know. There are a lot of factors (internet bandwidth, server specs, software efficiency, etc) and to really have a good solution DOES cost a 'lot' of money (remember, these are small shops, so their definition of expensive may not be what we might be used to working with). As an example, I'll point out that Woot.com, whose business is 100% online and has over 30 employees (according to wikipedia) and, I'm sure, a small full-time I.T. staff, STILL can't weather the instant clobbering their servers take when a bag of crap pops up.
So I don't really think it is fair to blame the shop owners.
I think the best thing to do is learn to be calm, even when your adrenaline is pumping and server errors are popping up everywhere, and understand your chances of getting an in demand item are low. Server errors affect the buying experience, not the likelihood of getting something. If you don't get it, it was just bad luck - not the servers fault or the stores fault.
But I do agree that the store owners shouldn't be complacent either. If your web host has problems, look in to getting another one. Or, better, consider alternative options (such as eBay). Unhappy customers = bad, regardless of how fair it is.