Selfridges Naked Vault Launch; A Missed Opportunity

This is the face of someone who was unsuccessful in purchasing the Urban Decay Naked Vault.
This is the face of someone who was unsuccessful in purchasing the Urban Decay Naked Vault.

Like many I have been waiting weeks for the Urban Decay Naked Vault launch; I was a bit wary about the way the launch would be managed, following the announcement from Selfridges that only people using a link (sent via an email to be issued the following morning) would be able to purchase the Vault.

Now Selfridges had already advised that there were over 14,000 people on the waiting list, and only 60 sets on sale; considering that Selfridges ships internationally and not just within the UK this seemed absurd. 60. Six-zero. Absolutely baffling. Considering the hype on forums such as Twitter and Facebook in the weeks running up to the launch you would think that the buyers for Selfridges would have done a quick assessment and ordered a few more from Urban Decay; let’s be honest, it couldn’t be that difficult considering that all of the products featured are permanent products in the Naked line. As one person stated on Twitter, Selfridges have missed out on an opportunity to shift a lot of units.

Aside from the extreme probability issues related to getting your hands on the Naked Vault (1/233), the way that the release was handled on launch day in my opinion was nothing short of a fiasco. Selfridges advised that an email would be sent to everyone who had signed up to the waiting list at 8am, at the same time the Vault went live. Really? You’re going to send over 14,000 emails at the exact time the product goes live? What could possibly go wrong with that?!?! Surely it would be more sensible to send the email an hour before, so that everyone would have the email in time? Surely that would be the most fair way to launch the vault? Ahem.

Of course the next morning I was eagerly awaiting my email, like many other beauty lovers ( beautyphiles?); 8am came and went, no email. I was talking to people on Twitter throughout, many had also not received the email by 8.03, 8.05, 8.07… I received my email just before 8.08; I clicked on the link, put the Vault in my basket went to checkout, and received a message saying that I couldn’t buy the item as there was no price attached. I closed the screen, went back through the link and found that the item was out of stock. I was beyond annoyed.

I discussed this issue on Twitter over the next hour, and many people had experienced the same problem. It turned out that the Vault had sold out in under a minute, before, it seems, the majority of people even received their email. Later in the day Selfridges issued a tweet stating that all emails were sent by 8am, and that any delays were caused by the user email servers; there was a lot of disbelief expressed at this statement, for one thing many people were sending themselves/ getting loved ones to send emails to check that the issue wasn’t with their emails, around the time of the launch, and reported no issues. Some tweeters even suggested that Selfridges had purposefully staggered the emails to prevent their website being overwhelmed.

Overall, no one was happy with the way the launch was managed, but Selfridges should be able to take away lessons from this for future launches:

  1. Market/ product research is vital: if Selfridges had released the waiting list a few weeks/ months earlier they wouldn’t have been “overwhelmed” by the interest in the Naked Vault, and would have been able to request more product from Urban Decay (on the basis that such stock was available, but see my comment above about the Naked line).
  2. If customers will need to use an email link to purchase the item, ensure that it is sent in advance of the product going live (say 1-2 hours before) – this way, when stock is limited everyone has a fair chance to get in there. By sending the email so close to the launch there were bound to be issues with servers, and with the size of the waiting list I would be surprised if they had been able to send all 14,000 emails without having to do it in batches.
  3. Don’t make excuses if something doesn’t go right; see points 1 & 2 – clearly more thought and planning could have gone into the launch. It appears that Selfridges was genuinely surprised by the amount of interest in the Naked Vault, the initial launch was due to go live on the 1st November according to Urban Decay’s PR. The list and email seemed to be last minute solutions to try and deal with all the interest, and (I’m sorry) but in my opinion it was executed poorly. The 60 people who managed to get their hands on the Vault will undoubtably be very happy right now, that leaves at least 13,940 potential customers that are not so happy. A lot of people say they didn’t even receive the initial email confirming the release date/ time and details about the utilisation of a link email; I signed up using two different email addresses as a back up, and I only received notification on one account. Many people have tweeted stating that they will not be buying anything from Selfridges in future, and if they are anything like me, they currently spend a lot of money on beauty products.

Unfortunately, I didnt manage to get the vault and have consoled myself by ordering the Too Faced Everything Nice palette from Sephora, this in itself speak volumes about missed opportunities for Selfridges. Selfridges posted lots of ideas for substitutes for the people that didn’t get the Vault, but considering how things were managed, I wonder how many people actually looked at these suggestions and made a purchase? My guess would be not many, I know that in my anger and frustration I went to another retailer.

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