U.S. Mint implements website changes starting Aug. 30

Adds 'waiting room' feature that activates for high-demand items
By Paul Gilkes
Published : 09/01/13
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Responding to customer feedback, the U.S. Mint is implementing improvements to its website Aug. 30. Among the changes is one that Mint officials claim will eliminate system slowdowns and crashes during the release of limited-edition and high-demand numismatic products.

According to Mint officials, the improvements to the website at www.usmint.gov constitute replacement of the current “shopping cart” Web pages of the online product catalog with new ones to streamline order placement.

One key improvement cited by the Mint is the introduction of a “waiting room” feature that is activated when the number of customers outstrips Mint website capacity.

The feature will be deployed when the Mint reaches its capacity to accommodate customers all attempting to order a high-demand product at the same time. It will be deployed on a product-by-product basis, according to Mint spokesman Michael White.

Previously, on the initial day of sales for a limited-edition numismatic product, customers were often greeted with a sluggish website or totally prevented from gaining access to order any product from the online catalog.

Once the waiting room feature is triggered, any customers subsequently visiting any online page of the product catalog will be given the option to enter the site to “get in line” or to leave the site, according to Mint officials.

Once in the waiting room, a customer’s computer screen will post a notification of the estimated waiting time, which will update automatically. A small status circle will “pulse,” according to Mint officials, to signal to the customer that the system is active.

Mint officials advise that customers who close the online window and leave the waiting room will lose their place in the ordering queue. While in the waiting room, however, customers may open other tabs in their browser or another browser window to visit other websites.

“The waiting room concept has been tested with customers and received positive responses,” according to U.S. Mint officials.

In recent years, the catalog website has often been overwhelmed by customers seeking to order high demand products on the first day of sales, causing system overload and ultimate crashing.

Customers unwilling or unable to use the waiting room feature will continue to have the option of leaving the Mint’s website and returning later to purchase the product or products, if any remain available.

Shopping cart

According to U.S. Mint officials, the new shopping cart Web pages to be introduced Aug. 30 will be easier to read, with wider pages, more white space and less text.

The new shopping cart pages will also provide Mint customers with more information about the numismatic products they are previewing or ordering, including a small product image and a link to the product description, price and quantity. ■

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