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The Indomitability of the Human Spirit

BFCM is hardly “hard”, whippersnappers
October 25, 2023

Welcome to Wednesday, futurists. 

Right now, as I write this, there is an ultramarathon going on in Bell’s Buckle, Tennessee, where two runners have been running… since Saturday morning. 

The annual “last man standing” event requires runners line up at the starting line of a 4.1667-mile loop, and they must complete it in time to be back at the line by the top of the hour.

Every hour, on the hour, they run in 4+ mile loop. The two runners left have been running for over 105 hours, for over 400 miles, and have set multiple world records in the process, proving that the human body knows no limit.

Kinda reminds me of my first BFCM…

I pen today’s letter with a hearty “back in my day” sermon. Thinking back to the bad old days of eCommerce, where I sat on the phone with Rackspace, the hosting company to the rich and famous circa 2010, for 72+ hours at a time. We had no “SaaS” — if something went down that was my fault, and the boss was super-duper-pissed at me for it.

BFCM is as critical for merchants as it is a game of craps — inventory planning, merchandising, promotion — all a form of professional gambling where you bet it all on black in hopes to beat the house.

Running a site during Black Friday Cyber Monday in 2023 is a cakewalk. Last year, Klaviyo had a brief outage, and everyone took to dunking; but back in my day, we didn’t have time to make memes on Twitter while waiting for services to come back up — we had to call data centers, request manual reboots, and push new code.

Doubtless, I spent my 105 hours of a metaphorical eCommerce ultramarathon, going round-and-round in circles. If you did, I salute you. If you didn’t, praise G-d above.

Let’s agree right now to be grateful that those days are behind us, and also we don’t want to hear any whinin’ and complainin’ this year about how “hard” BFCM is; the season is a month-long, and it starts next week.

As eCom became more successful and more resilient, the systems we rely upon are largely out of our control. They make up a “friendship quilt” of experiences that are as helpful as they are margin-extractive. And this is all for the betterment of our brands, our businesses, and our mental health.

So, buck up, buckaroo. Get back to the line. The ultramarathon days of BFCM are over, and the Fun Run 5K is about to begin. 

— Phillip

P.S. My money’s on Harvey Lewis of the USA to win this thing (“U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”)

P.P.S. We ain’t got no limits, no more. Or, at least that’s what it feels like with the AI revolution. Check out our newest episode of the Future Commerce podcast to hear why “Constraints and Limitations” may be a thing of the past. Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

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