Pay Attention to the Details

May 12th, 2011 | By | Category: Featured Articles, News, Public relations

My husband waited a long time for the anticipated launch in Israel of the iPad 2. He had even considered buying it overseas and having someone bring it over for him. The media build up for the iPad was consistent with this well-known brand. Across the world, Apple has done a remarkable job at marketing itself and its products. As my husband would say, the technology behind it really speaks for itself. He’s completely converted and would say that nothing can compare to the iPad today. Perhaps he is right, but certainly the folks distributing and selling the iPad in Israel got it seriously wrong.

It really amazes me how Israel, with all its technological know-how, just could not get the launch of the iPad 2 right. The country that exports technology – somehow was a bit off the mark for iPad Israel’s Friday, April 29th 2011 big day. I am not talking about the hype and the PR for the event, since this clearly wasn’t the problem. iPad has such a good reputation worldwide, that just mentioning the word “selling in Israel”, would have Israelis flocking. Surely then, the Apple representatives in Israel should have known this? After all, this wasn’t the first launch of the iPad 2 in the world. Did they seriously not expect people to rush to buy the product as soon as possible?

Came Friday of the launch, there was a countdown to zero. Nine a.m. my husband was eagerly sitting and waiting for something to happen. Unfortunately, nothing did. It remained zero for a while, even with refreshing the page. An hour later, he checked again – this time there was a link on the page to the iPad 2, but when clicked, he just got a 404 error message – there was in fact no page. Realizing their mistake, the distributors must have scrambled to put a page up, but unfortunately, somehow did not anticipate all the expected traffic, because eventually he got a Gateway error. Each stage of the process, he met more and more challenges. The next night, when he tried again, he either couldn’t add to his basket, couldn’t go to his basket and when he did, there was no order button. Eventually he did manage to add the product to his basket, but the exact color and size was not in stock anymore. When he filled in his credit card details to purchase another product – the payment button did not work. All in all, he spent several hours on a precious Saturday evening trying to buy the iPad 2. Sunday morning, a whole 48 hours after the launch, he was eventually successful in ordering this now infamous piece of technology.

Now my husband is a keen technology enthusiast. The fact that he spent two whole days trying to make a purchase was just annoying but he was determined enough to endure the hassle. But what happens to all those people that are not as obsessed and passionate as he is? No matter how much hype and positive PR has been generated, spending two days trying to make a simple online purchase can turn even the most die-hard folks away.

PR people have their jobs set out for them. Comes to a launch and we know what we have to do. However, ensuring that the technology behind the launch is functioning adequately should not be in our job descriptions. Had I been the PR company involved in this launch, I definitely would have been livid. Everyday thousands of people buy products online. Apple is one of the most technologically advanced companies in the world. It is simply not on that the folks distributing and selling their products here could not get it right.

On the other hand, let this be a lesson for all of us on logistics and technology. If Apple’s reps could overlook something as simple as ensuring their systems can handle masses of people at one time, how easy can something like this happen to any of us? An effective PR launch is not just in the big stuff, but in the minute, tiniest details. The smallest error (a small bug in the system) can have the biggest repercussions. Let’s hope the folks selling iPad in Israel have learned their lessons – for the launch of iPad 3.

And for those of you interested – almost 2 weeks later – my husband is still waiting delivery!

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