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Flick Frenzy

Saturday, November 24, 2012
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How about, 'the sale that irritates a nation'? Annoys a nation? Antagonises a nation?
Remember when I wrote about retail here in Australia and how the brick and mortars get it so wrong?

You probably don't. That's okay. You can stay anyway.

In my excoriation of the Aussie shopping experience, I forgot to mention how bad we are at online retail too.

One of the country's biggest electrical stores Harvey Norman has as of this year, only been posting about fifty or sixty thousand a day in sales online.

Which is, to hear Gerry Harvey whingeing about it, only about 1% of their total sales.

Australian businesses suck at customer service. They're awful. They don't bother.

Well, there are big profound reasons why Harvey Norman only does about a piddling amount online.

A frenzy of passion, or something along those lines

They're the same reasons that Click Frenzy, whose site I couldn't even link to two days ago because it caused a redirect loop, failed so dramatically.

Click Frenzy was supposed to be like the US Cyber Monday, except where Cyber Monday follows a logical progression begun with Thanksgiving and Black Friday, Click Frenzy was just...there. In the middle of November. Like your shorts hanging in the wind on your clothes line. Nice shorts, by the way.

It was a thinly totally not veiled attempt to grab some of the dollars going to the US for Cyber Monday which is of course two days from now.

Remember earlier this year, when the North Koreans announced loudly that they were testing a huge rocket, even allowed the western press in to cover the event, and when they hurled the thing to the sky it lasted about a minute, broke into confetti and rained down on the ocean? Happy couples everywhere sighed at the missed opportunity of being showered with Taepodong-2 missile.

That's what Click Frenzy was. Except if you throw in a bunch of major (and minor) retailers lasso'd together for a sale. Massive discounts, the site screamed. 40 - 60% off!

Gerry Harvey, you retail knick-knack.

Seriously though, in the interest of being fair, let's talk about what Click Frenzy got right. Okay, done.

The main item of complaint was that no-one could access it. More than a million people logged on to the Click Frenzy site, at which you could find all the 'deals' (more on that later) and then tried to click to the individual retailers' sites to buy.

The site shut down, whimpering about all the stress while hiding in the corner of a splashy banner which said, 'Wow! We're breaking all kinds of barriers here!' as if I cared about how many people were logged on at the same time. I wanted my kitchen knives.

The same was true of the retailer sites except without the inane spin. Myer just kept trying to access and then told me its server was full. Same with anyone else you'd buy from, selling things you'd care about.

You're dodgy, but I love you

It was in the back of my mind, that this thing seemed a bit unrealistic. We have two major, major sales in Australia - Boxing Day through early January and middle of the year - and two smaller ones around March and October. Everything else is ad-libbed at the whim of the retailer.

So when they plop a massive new sale on our doorstep like this it seems apparent that it's a bit of a cash-grab. Which it was. The sales weren't genuine. A genuine sale is when iTunes cards are discounted. A disingenuous sale is when Kathmandu backpacks are 'slashed' from $399.99 to $299.99. I hope they didn't hurt the Kathmandu backpacks when they slashed them.

These are not in-demand items.

Myer had about fifty items on sale. Such selective discounting generally means that they're trying to get rid of old stock, or things people don't want, or both.

It has also been pointed out ad infinitum that many of the 'discounted' items can be sourced at similar prices on a daily basis, from sites like Amazon.

This was not a serious sale.

The frustration felt by many was real and palpable and could have been avoided if we all just had a cup of coffee.
It was cynical and obvious and it failed. And a lot of people spent their time refreshing and refreshing and refreshing only to keep looking at their watch.

And now it's posited that the whole thing was just an information grab - everyone participating was told beforehand to register; I'm still not sure why. But they did get more than a million e-mail addresses. That's big business. They're worth a stack of money.

Never mind that the 'businessman' who headed the whole thing up, has an oeuvre of stinky rotten fish about him. If you read that link, you can just feel the conman oozing out of the page like a well-developed pimple gone awry.

Let's do it all again

Arnott says they'll be doing this whole scam sale thing again next year. Sounds positively buoyant about it.

All I know is that more and more Australian dollars will go overseas - particularly to the US, where they know how to professionally do retail. Clowns and Cowboys need not apply.

I mean, if Australian businesses can't get the job done, then Neiman Marcus and a strong Aussie dollar will.

But not Best Buy, who actively discourage international business.

Bit like the effect Click Frenzy had on Australians. They won't return for next year's debacle.
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