Today I joined tens of thousands of people who attempted to get a can of the re-released New Coke.  For those not familiar, New Coke was Coke’s attempt to change their formula in the eighties.  Much like today’s attempt to sell this limited release soft drink on their website, it was a flop.

This effort by Coke joins dozens of high-profile limited releases that have resulted in frustration for fans as they faced a very limited supply and a technology chain that was not prepared to handle the influx of interested users.  

Eventually Coke was able to get the store up and working, but not before it wasted a lot of people’s time and alienated a lot of potential buyers. So what could they have done differently?

They could have metered access to their store and made the shopping experience both pleasant and fair by leading with email collection.

Start by launching a site days before the sale where people can submit their email to be informed when it is their turn to buy.

Armed with a list of interested buyers, they could have given groups of them access to the store slowly.  Perhaps adjusting the maximum buy to ensure that the supply of New Coke could reach a wider audience and not land in the hands of eBay resellers. Who have already started selling cans of New Coke, even though they have not shipped.

I write this as one of those people who continues to show up.  To click and hammer away to get what I want.

While I often get lucky, the process leaves me drained and asking what is the point.  All I am asking is that if you have people who are willing to spend five dollars on a can of soda, that you try and make the experience as pain-free as possible.

Technology is supposed to reduce frustration.  For the most part it has made shopping an easier experience.  But for some reason, brands, retailers and event spaces continue to use a large announce single point of entry approach to items with a high interest level.

By embracing technology that is easy to use and which also gives them greater incite to their customer base, Coke could have removed the hassle and ensured that a greater number of people could take part in the experience they tried to create. 

Now that would have been refreshing.