An Update On Our Approach To High Demand Product Launches
To our loyal customers,
First and foremost, a huge thank you to everyone for your continued support as we try to improve the way we put high demand products like this week’s Shining Fates pre-order on the site. As many of you know, we’ve had challenges in keeping the site experience as seamless as we want it to be in light of overwhelming demand and strain on our site’s resources.
We want to be transparent with you all in terms of what our challenges are, what we’ve done to address them, and what we’re trying to do going forward to deliver a great experience for you.
Feel free to use these links to jump down to a specific section if you’d like:
What our challenges are
While we hope our digital experience across our website, social channels and email comes across as very polished, we are a small Canadian company run by a lean, dedicated team of hobby lovers. As one of our core commitments has always been to keep prices low for you, we don’t have access to resources larger companies can bring to bear to solve some of the challenges we face.
And whew – those challenges have been big ones. As you are likely aware, not only is consumer demand through the roof for some of our products, especially some Pokemon and Sport Card releases, but many bad actors utilize bots and other tools to attempt to automate their access to product releases and sales.
Beyond that, we’ve heard from many of you that having products released exclusively at set times does not provide a fair experience for everyone, as many folks might not be able to take time off of work or school to wait on the site for a product release.
With all of this in mind, our challenge remains to reliably do the following:
- Provide a seamless experience that makes purchasing products as easy as it can be
- Keep our prices competitive
- Give everyone an equal chance to get high demand products
- Be transparent with our approach
What we’ve done to address them
Without getting too technical, we’ve been working with our web developers to implement a variety of fixes and changes to help overcome these hurdles. Many of you have reached out to us and made very helpful suggestions, so we wanted to address a few of those here so you know we heard you!
- We’ve implemented a CDN, alongside some other tools, to help filter out malicious traffic like bots
- We’ve invested a lot of time and money into improving and optimizing our servers
- We’ve tried different ways of releasing products like staggering to help alleviate server load
Also a note on Shopify, as a few people mentioned it. We actually moved away from Shopify as there are several backend limitations that didn’t quite make sense for our business, and we’re not quite at the point where Shopify Plus works for us.
Even with all of the time and effort we’ve put into these attempts, we’re still obviously having issues with these types of launches.
What we’re trying to do going forward
While we are still considering a variety of options, one of the most prominent pieces of feedback we’ve gotten is that many of you would be open to a raffle / lottery system of some sort. We need to decide whether this is feasible for us in the long term, but we are going to attempt to put something together that will be workable in time for the Shining Fates release.
Obviously, this is all still quite fresh, and we will have more details in the next little while as we figure them out. That being said, we know a few things that are important to you (and us), and want to share those as key aspects of what we’re going to try to accomplish:
- We want to try to provide equal opportunity for everyone to get products
- We want to combat bots as much as possible, and get our products to real customers
- We want to reward our regular customers, hobbyists, and collectors rather than flippers
- We want everyone to feel like they’ve been treated fairly, even if they don’t manage to get a product at release
That’s all for now! Again, we really appreciate the tremendous outpouring of support we’ve received from the community, and we promise to do our very best to create an awesome experience for all of you. If you have any questions, ideas, or comments, please feel free to reach out to us directly on social.
Thanks for choosing Zephyr – we would definitely choose you every time 😉
The Zephyr Epic Team