Oh no! Shopify crashed for longer than we can ever remember! In this episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle podcast, Anton talks about whether or not it’s time to switch platforms, and what we can all learn from this experience.
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Hey, what's up everybody. Anton Krely here from ecommercelifestyle.com, and welcome to another episode of The eCommerce Lifestyle podcast. I wanted to record a quick message right now, a short episode, about something that literally just happened. And like the title of this episode says, Shopify went down and they went down for longer than they've went down in my recent memory. The last big outage I remember was back in like, must have been 2016 because it was actually during our Drop Ship Lifestyle retreat in Hawaii. It was funny, the one time a year that the community gets together a Drop Ship Lifestyle was the time that Shopify was having a lot of outage.
But it happened again yesterday, and it happened for five hours. I think it was just over five hours. People, they freaked out, and I get why, right? That's where we make our money from, by selling things online using the Shopify platform. Now, good news at the time I'm recording this, and since later in the day yesterday, Shopify was back up. All services fully restored. Everything back to normal. So I want to talk about though what actually caused this and then really the most important lesson that we as eCommerce entrepreneurs can take away from this and how we can actually use this to make our business better and stronger in the future.
So what happened was there was a... I don't know what you want to call it, but an issue or a crash or outage with Google Cloud services. The way it works basically, which is sad, but a lot of the internet, like a huge portion, small businesses, big businesses, and everything in between, are powered by either Google Cloud services or by Amazon web services. Basically what that means is both Google and Amazon... Obviously they're massive companies, and they have a lot of technology when it comes to how to host things online, and they have a lot of server space. What they do is basically lease their services to other companies.
So for example, Shopify, they use Google Cloud services. Now, you wouldn't know that as somebody that sells on Shopify because it's kind of like a partnership agreement that Shopify has with Google. Now, other companies that have this agreement with Google, some huge ones that are notable would be Uber. Uber had down time yesterday, too. Netflix. Vimeo even, which is funny because Vimeo used to be a competitor and now, I don't know how long this has been, but Vimeo pays Google to basically store their video content. Just really interesting. But yeah, that's what happened. There was a big issue with Google's Cloud hosting which... or what do you call it? Google Cloud service I think. And then that caused this down time across all of these different companies all around the internet.
And then also Google's own internal services because they use their own. So the way that I first noticed it... I don't know if you've ever seen any of my YouTube videos. If not, just go to YouTube.com/dropshiplifestyle. But I usually have my computers in the background. I use multiple screens, multiple monitors, and on one of them I have my analytics. I looked at it yesterday and I saw it said zero, and I was like okay, that's not right. So I thought maybe I was in an account that we don't use or something. I refreshed it, and it still said zero. And then I went to the website, saw it was working, and then I was like okay something's up. Then I saw YouTube was down, then I saw Google Ads was down. Yeah, it spread from there, right?
So again, it wasn't like a Shopify problem where Shopify did something wrong, or Shopify wasn't stable because of their code or user error on their part or anything. It was because, again, Google had a problem. They pay Google and that trickled down to all of us that sell there. And five hours is a long time, okay? Because people, obviously again, they were freaking out on Facebook. I totally get it, but one thing that I've learned over a decade plus in eCommerce is it is like a cost of doing business. That there are going to be issues.
Now I mentioned this is a previous episode called Safety Nets, a previous episode of the podcast, so definitely check that one out. But that one I was talking about different ad platforms and different remarketing channels. This is bigger, though, right? Because it doesn't matter what emails you're sending or what type of ads you're running, or what platforms you're running on. If when people click the links they go to a page that says maintenance mode or down for service or that just times out. If that's happening it doesn't matter what safety nets you have in place.
So what I'll say for anyone that's questioning Shopify right now though, and thinking oh should I still use them? Should I look at my options? The good thing is I'm actually happy they're using either Google, I mean they're using Google, but Google or Amazon for hosting because those companies, if things do break, which they will, they can fix them, right? So again, it's the cost of doing business, but they get resolved. And then usually a lot quicker than it was yesterday. It's not a common occurrence where there's huge outages, so don't think of it as like oh do I have to constantly check my store? You could use up time monitors that'll email you if it goes down, but again it is very rare and the good thing is that the partner on their side, on Shopify's side, is one of the biggest companies in the world that again has the teams and the technology and the money to restore services when there's issues.
I still definitely do recommend Shopify and not any of these other small companies that say they do their own hosting, but are just paying a company a lot smaller than Google to do the hosting, and when that stuff breaks it could be down for a lot longer. And sometimes they can't even figure out how to restore it. So just keep that in mind. Shopify is still the best, and this was just something that happens. It would be the same thing like... The way I can compare this to a traditional business would be if you owned, I don't know, let's say a coffee shop in a strip mall in your local town, and there was road construction so the road got closed for a day and business dipped. Again, it sucks, but it happens.
Okay, so what can we take away from this, though, that we can actually apply to our business to make it stronger in the future? Well, when something like this happens you realize what a direct impact and a direct effect it has on your sales, right? Because they're gone. People can't buy if your website doesn't work. So what this always makes me think about is what else that I'm using in my business, like what other things that are part of the businesses if they disappeared would have that same effect or similar effect of literally the business just not existing anymore? These are places that you don't have Google backing you, right? These are places that you need to put in contingency plans in case something goes wrong, that there is a back up, and that your business can still exist.
The first one that I want you to think about, and something I think about a lot, is what are the products and who are they coming from that make up most of your sales? Especially if you running a drop shipping store. And by the way, if you're not, go to dropshiplifestyle.com/webinar, again it's dropshiplifestyle.com/webinar. I put together a free training there. It's about two and a half hours long. And I give you a list of 237 niches for eCommerce. Again, dropshiplifestyle.com/webinar. But if you're already part of the Drop Ship Lifestyle you're already running a store, 80 20 rule definitely applies where probably 20% of your products are making up 80% of your revenue and your profit.
So what are those products? What suppliers do they come from? Now, what happens if that 20% of products, the supplier goes bankrupt? Or the supplier is a small company with one person that leads it, and that person has a heart attack and dies and nobody answers emails anymore? What happens if the suppliers say, "You know what? We don't want to work with internet retailers anymore because we're only going to go direct to consumer, so effective next week no one's going to sell our stuff anymore besides us." Now, scary things, right? They're all scary, and they can all happen. Not saying they're going to, but again this is about planning for the worst.
So what I do, and what I want you to do, is look at again who those suppliers are that make your best products, or your best selling products, and what are those products that are your best selling and don't wait for something like that to happen. Start looking now for comparable products from other brands. Start looking for other brands that have maybe things that are almost identical, or things that are slightly different, or just other things you can have ready to go in case something happens. Again, it would still change your business. It's still going to mean you're going to need to kind of restructure how you're selling, and your sales might change, but at least you wouldn't be out of business if something like that happens.
Like absolute worst case scenario, again five suppliers either cut off all online sales or they were all small companies that went bankrupt, or the owners died and there was no one else there to take over, right? Again, hopefully it doesn't happen, but it could. So do that. Start looking for alternates, whether you're selling them right now or you're just forming relationships with these other brands, start it sooner rather than later so that you have them as back ups.
Another thing, speaking of, I don't want to speak of death a lot, but speaking of things happening to people; Let's just say that you are running a massive store, whether it's drop shipping, or whether you're private labeling, or whether you have a warehouse, whatever, and let's just say you have a GM, you have a general manager that's running the show. They do everything. Well, what happens if they get hit by a bus? Or what happens if they have to quit for health reasons? Or what happens if anything, right? They're just not there tomorrow? Well, does your business just completely cease to exist? Do you know what's going on if you have someone running the show? Are you able to take over if you need to? Are you able to hire somebody else to step in? Are there other employees or assistants that can get the job done?
Because if there's not that's pretty scary, right? Things happen. Life changes fast. So you should have, again it's fine to have somebody as the GM of your business, but every single thing they do should be documented in a SOP, in a standard operating procedure, so that you or somebody else can take over if needed. And other people, again, should know what's going on. You should know what the day to day in your business because, again, if something happens you don't want that to be the deciding factor of whether or not your business is still in existence.
So speaking of that, it's not just the people in your company that their work should be documented. But it should be yours as well because this is bigger than you, right? It's your business, so what if you're the manager, the owner, the President? What if you're the person that does everything and you have a couple of employees with you? Well, what happens if something happens to you? Does you business just go under? Again, I don't want to make this negative, but let's just get it out there. What if you go into, knock on wood, what if you go into a coma and you're out for three months? And you wake up and you're totally fine, you feel great, and you're back to normal, but what does your business look like three months later?
Is it spending money every day, nothing's being processed, and it's falling apart? Or is it still able to survive while you're getting better and you can come back to something that's still operational, that's still there that you could step back into and take over when you're healthy again? Again, scary things to think about, but they're things that you should think about. And sometimes it takes something as big as our storefronts going down for five hours to put us in that mindset of: Do I have contingency plans for the big pieces of the business? Usually those things are again suppliers, employees, and you. There are more, but for the sake of this episode those are the main three I want you to think about. Start to set up contingency plans. Start to do more research on brands and suppliers. If you're not already having people in your company document what they do through SOPs have them do it. And put in a plan for you in case anything happens so that your business will thrive while you're not able to be there and you can come back to it being the same or even stronger.
So hope that wasn't a dark episode, wasn't meant to be. It was just here to give you a silver lining of a situation where I know people were spending money on ads yesterday and definitely lost some return on head spend for the day. Again, comes with the territory. It's part of business. Just come back stronger today. Have a great Monday. Have a great week. And if you're listening to this and you have not left a review and you enjoy the podcast I would really appreciate it if you can go into iTunes and just go to the podcast page and please leave a quick review. Let me know what you take away from it, too.
We have.... Let me read one now. We had a really good one come in the other day. Going through my phone. And got to find my app. And we had a... We had a podcast. We had Sexy Butterfly Forever said, "I love Anton's honest opinions on eCommerce. It's easy to follow. He gets to the point. He keeps it short and easy to understand." And the title of that review was "Best online business podcast." So thank you, Sexy Butterfly Forever. I appreciate that. And that's the point. Keep it short. Jeep it to the point. Help you get better results in your business and in your life.
Again, I'd appreciate it if you haven't left one, if you can go there and do so, so more people could find us. Help spread the word. And if you're not part of Drop Ship Lifestyle yet hope on over to dropshiplifestyle.com/webinar, check out the free presentation, and learn how we do what it is we do over here. So thank you everybody. Have a great week. And I'll talk to you all in the next episode of The eCommerce Lifestyle podcast. See ya.
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