Well since RS said they had a peak of 500k visitors in a quarter hour, maybe your example is not exactly helpful.
Maybe they could have coped better. But only if the preconditions were perfect. They would need enough time to implement sites that are not connected to their usual stuff.
You have to think of all those pesky regulations that uselessly demand that personal data of buyers be protected. It"s not as if anybody cares if the internet knows his CC Number, right?
It is helpful because it talks about scale. "Maybe they could have coped better"? They failed to keep their website up and working correctly, they'd have struggled to cope more poorly. Farnell managed to have two SKUs listed! That's not some "unforeseen demand" issue, that's a sloppy mistake!
If they needed time, they should have taken the time and done it properly. If, to make the launch an actual success, it'd needed to be delayed by a week then I'm fairly confident that's what would have happened. It's in no-one's interests for this sort of disaster to happen. This was seemingly meticulously planned by RasPi, they coped just fine with the demand, it was RS and Farnell that dropped the ball. If Farnell and RS had said "we'll struggle with the demand, we're going to need to implement another low graphics site just for you guys" or "we're going to need some to do some offloading to a CDN", do you really think RasPi would have said "Go jump, it's our way or the highway"?
Sarcasm duly noted and ignored.
Heaven forbid that they be able to build another secure website using industry standard secure practices. Gosh, perhaps if only there were companies that would handle payments securely for you, if you're incapable or unwilling to manage it yourself? Darn, if only we lived in such a utopia.</Sarcasm>
Ah, it's my second favourite -asm.