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Black Friday snag? Online purchases canceled in droves.

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Scott Sady/AP/File

(Read caption) In this 2008 file photo, an Amazon.com employee grabs boxes off the conveyor belt to load in a truck at their Fernley, Nev., warehouse. Several online shoppers won't be getting the packages they're expecting, as stores were forced to cancel a large number of orders due to overselling on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

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Although people still showed up at brick-and-mortar stores in droves on Black Friday, the 2012 season was a success for online shopping. In fact, Black Friday itself racked up $1 billion in online sales, a new record and a 26% jump in sales from the year before. Cyber Monday e-commerce sales increased this year as well, by 17%.

However, despite these numbers, we heard rumblings amongst readers and accounts elsewhere online that all was not well with those who happily clicked "buy now" during the past two weeks. After making a purchase, many shoppers later signed into their email only to find that sinking message: the order could not be fulfilled. Reportedly, Best Buy, Toys "R" Us, Fry's, and many others were forced to cancel orders because their systems oversold various items.

We decided to ask our readers how many of them had had an order cancelled from the weeks of Black Friday or Cyber Monday, and at the time of publishing, about 47% of those who voted indicated yes, they had. That's notably high, although this could be attributed to scorned shoppers being particularly motivated to partake in the poll. However, the data regarding when these people placed that order is intriguing.

As it turns out, 70% of those with cancelled orders had made their purchase during Black Friday week, while Cyber Monday week orders only accounted for 30% of the cancellations. While this ratio can still change — Best Buy, after all, was still cancelling Black Friday orders last year well into December — the vast disparity speaks to the differences in shopping on these days. Black Friday week is largely about big doorbuster electronics in extremely limited quantities, while Cyber Monday puts a greater emphasis on home goods and apparel. The latter items can certainly sell out, but the mind-boggling prices on electronics from Black Friday are more likely to get snatched up at a clip since they've been heavily advertised and sought after. It would seem that several retailer sites just can't effectively match actual real-time stock to a flurry of incoming orders.

Regardless of the day, unfulfilled orders degrade the experience and make shoppers angry that they invested their time. Many of the complaints that we received even expressed feeling hoodwinked by the vendor. Thus, if retailers want to build upon the unprecedented online growth from this Black Friday season, they should consider inspiring consumer trust by providing a system that actually delivers the goods.

Lindsay Sakraina is the features director at dealnews.coma website devoted to finding the best deals on consumer goods. The site pledges to list the best deal, whether or not it's from an advertiser, although it does work with advertisers to craft deals for readers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click hereThis feature first appeared in dealnews.com. 


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