The JCrew.com site was offline for most of Monday, leaving frustrated customers in its wake.

Shoppers who tried to buy online from J.Crew Group Inc. on Monday found a site that didn’t work, and JCrew.com didn’t come back online until Tuesday morning.

The retailer, No. 49 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, said via its Twitter and Facebook accounts on Monday morning: “We’re experiencing issues with http://jcrew.com, but we’ll be back up and running shortly. Sorry for any inconvenience and thank you.” That was at 8:24 a.m. Eastern. J.Crew responded to aggravated consumers who tweeted about their inability to shop, and pledged that it was working on the issue, replying to tweets with such messages as, “Sadly, we don’t have an ETA at the moment but we’re working around the clock to resolve!”

On Tuesday, at 4:35 a.m., J.Crew said via Twitter, “Our site is back up and running now. Thanks for your patience, and we apologize for any inconvenience—especially during the holidays.”


Based on customer comments, the technical issue on Monday also affected in-store redemption of gift cards and returns. A J.Crew representative could not be reached for comment.

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The retailer early Tuesday sent emails to customers with the subject line: “24 hours only: extra 50% off sale, in stores & online,” and at the top of the body of the email a note acknowledging the outage: “Apologies for any site issues today (we’re officially renaming this our “crash sale”).

J.Crew seemed to follow one of the rules for dealing with an outage by communicating with customers via social media. Mehdi Daoudi, CEO and founder of web performance measuring firm Catchpoint Systems Inc., says it’s key to keep consumers informed, ideally with a clever or appealing message. Such engagement can go a long way toward customer retention because site downtime or failure is inevitable, he says.

“Make sure you know about it before customers see it and let customers get the right message,” he says. “Have something funny for 404 [error message] pages. Offer discounts, coupons or omnichannel coupons to a store if you have one. Be engaged—use email, Twitter and other channels to let people know what’s going on.”

J.Crew isn’t the first retailer to experience website issues during the holidays. Macy’s Inc. (No. 5 in the Top 500) turned away consumers trying to shop on Macys.com on Black Friday, putting them in a queue to enter the overloaded site. A “temporary shopping jam” screen greeted online shoppers the day after Thanksgiving, and the screen on desktop and mobile devices would count down to 1 from 10 before trying to reload the site and allowing consumers to enter. Macy’s, which operates its e-commerce platform in-house, replied to many consumers on Twitter, apologizing for the delays with such messages as, “We are working hard on getting it fixed. We appreciate your patience!”

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