Sometimes even the smallest mistakes can shutter a business. Can you imagine what would happen to your brand if a human error caused a multi-million dollar mistake in a matter of a few hours? That’s exactly what happened to beauty and wellness brand, FOREO.
Courtesy of FOREO
“On Black Friday we kicked off our week-long deals on many of our skincare and oral care products as we do every year,” explains Beki Hoxa General Manager and VP of Business Development for FOREO North America. “This year, we had a system glitch that allowed shoppers to purchase our UFO smart masking device for $9.90 which usually retails for $279.”
In total, the ‘glitch’ lasted roughly two hours—no big deal, right?
Wrong. FOREO’s data for that same time frame ultimately showed that 38,575 UFO devices were purchased (roughly 20 UFOs sold globally through the brand’s website per second), which cost the company approximately $10 million dollars. The FOREO team noticed the error when they were alerted that their website had crashed around 12:30 pm PST on Black Friday.
Hoxa continues, “As GM of North America, I quickly got on the phone with our global IT team and e-commerce team to discuss a quick resolution strategy. However, shortly after our website crashed for a second time due to the massive amount of traffic we were experiencing once word leaked out that there was a confirmed glitch in pricing, it left the UFO price issue unresolved.”
Courtesy of FOREO
Being a global brand with teams scattered around the world, FOREO’s marketing and communications team based in Europe alerted Hoxa that customers were sharing the news that they bought highly discounted UFO on social media. Luckily, by 2:30 pm PST, the pricing glitch was finally resolved.
Curious to know what happened to the individual who made the mistake Hoxa tells me, “At the end of the day, we have all made mistakes. What matters is how we turn them around into valuable life lessons. FOREO is a big global family of pioneers and as such we always strive to be first. Failures are part of this process. But in failure lies innovation and learning from them is the key. We are very clear now in terms of how and why this human error occurred, and have taken measures across all markets to avoid this scenario from happening in the future. We will definitely be taking more time to plan during one of the craziest holiday and promotional seasons of the year moving forward.”
The mistake also offered the FOREO team an opportunity to reinforce their commitment to putting the customer first. “This experience also reinforced the need for transparency and to always put our customers first,” shares Hoxa, “Which is the reason we decided to honor the purchases made during this window.”
One silver lining from the ordeal was realizing how high the demand was for the UFO device. “Once we reestablished the correct pricing and managed to stabilize our dotcom platform, we decided to up the discount to 50% percent off on the UFO devices,” says Hoxa.
Courtesy of FOREO
On why they wanted to share this story publicly, Hoxa tells me, “Transparency is key to building trust with customers, thus sharing this was an important move on our part in order to continue building brand integrity and equity. While financially there was significant economic loss, we hope to turn this around and embrace the lessons we learned while gaining some new customer fans along the way.”
I could be wrong, but I don’t think most businesses would honor a pricing glitch of this scale. As a loyal consumer myself, I admire FOREO taking ownership and not reneging on purchases already made.
“At FOREO, we walk the talk,” states Hoxa. “We are a beauty and wellness company striving to make our customers’ lives and lifestyles easier with our innovations and solutions. We promote self- confidence and self-care. Part of this journey involves integrity and transparency.”
One of the reasons this costly mistake didn’t shutter FOREO altogether is that they control every aspect of their business. Hoxa tells me, “ We have our own internal operations—from design, to development, and ultimately manufacturing. So pivoting quickly to address and resolve this glitch was done in a matter of minutes and hours rather than days or weeks.”
Hoxa adds, “Key learnings aside, we are so grateful to all of our customers for sticking with us and always advocating for FOREO. We have some exciting new things in the pipeline and can’t wait for what’s to come in 2020.”