Surviving the Migration
Posted by on 2/10/2013 to
It was like that nightmare you had when you were in high school. Remember the one where you couldn't find your locker, or didn't know where to find your next class? I was riding high off a great December, having been in Outside Magazine's gift guide and selling more Demerit Badges in one month than I had sold in the previous year. We went to check in to the Demerit Wear website, but got a message "...can't find the server...". Weird. I tried a different browser. Nothing. Panic started to set in when I found we could not get into the site administration, either. The last web order was received around 4:00am. I grabbed the phone and called Register.com, our host and shopping cart.
I started six years ago with register.com because I was a beginner, I couldn't write code without looking up each and every tag, and wanted to focus on the product. I learned their shopping cart software, and although it wasn't the cheapest, or the fanciest, I had slowly built it up over time with keywords, links, and a variety of products and it was working. The automated phone system reported a 30 minute wait. My heart was beating in my ears as I moved towards frantic, but I repeated in my head, "hand-holding included" from a television ad I had seen previously.
The news was actually much worse than I had expected. "Did you receive the email we sent to you?" (Now, register.com sends a lot of emails. Important ones like: "Domain Sale-just $2.75!" or "Let register.com build a website for you!") She continued: "We sent an email to inform you that we were migrating your website to our partner, web.com". I did a quick search of my inbox and sure enough, found the email she was talking about. (finally, being a level 3 e-mail hoarder paid off!) But it wasn't from register.com, like all the super-spammy spam I had learned to ignore. It was from web.com, with the subject "Your new website!" and I had obviously deleted it thinking that I was with register.com and didn't want to move to a different shopping cart. A quick scan of the email promised a worry-free migration, free website design, with promises of additional contact and support. She promised the site would re-surface within a few hours, good as new, just as soon as the servers were pointing in the right direction.
The site showed up a few hours later. Imagine if you owned a retail store, and during the night someone moved it next door for you. But instead of setting it up, they just piled everything in the middle of the floor. With a bulldozer. Parts of it looked like my site, but there were no pictures to any of the 200+ products I had the day before. None of the links worked and all the keywords and optimization I had done over the previous years were gone. The connection to our credit card processor was severed. What was worse, customers were posting things on the facebook page like, "...are you guys out of business?"
I got to work. Reading the help section of the new software, loading pictures, re-establishing links and reconnecting to the payment gateway. I had a simplified version of the site back up in about two days, but how could I invest so much more effort with a company that so clearly did not care one bit about my business? An exchange of emails that were supposed to solve the problems created by the careless migration became quite terse (on both our parts) and I never received a response to my last email. So I decided to do it all again. I researched new shopping cart software, started reading and learning the system, figuring out how to make Demerit Wear better than before. If you are reading this, then the new site is up. I'm sure there will be a few problems, but as always, we will figure out a way to give you great service on a great product. Not because we are supposed to, or because it will bring us more business, or make us more money, but because doing a good job is way more interesting than just skating by.
I guess this is what Demerit Wear is all about. Stuff goes wrong--what can you do? No one is born knowing how to light a camp stove. You might singe your eyebrows once or twice. But if you can laugh it off, you have a great story to tell, and you can pass that experience on to the next person.