So despite the massive and very public failure last year Click Frenzy is apparently coming back not just as a single massive sale but with other timed sales as well. Last year I very cynically (and as it turns out very accurately) predicted just how badly it would fail and I’m honestly a little surprised that it’s back for another attempt. After thinking about it however it might by the slimmest sliver of a pollinating insects genitalia chance of being a good thing for the Australian online retailers and consumers.
First off the people at Power Retail who run Click Frenzy are nothing if not persistent and while I don’t agree with their methods they clearly know how to market to the masses and successfully played the major media companies like a drum set when generating the hype last year. I have no doubt they’ll be able to do it again this year given how desperate for content News Ltd and Fairfax have become (seriously it’s getting really quite pathetic).
This time around they are playing the part of the humbled but unbowed retail savior who has “learnt many harsh lessons” but never the less still somehow managed to claim last year was a success despite the almost universal panning of the event. From Power Retail’s point of view it probably was successful The got thousands, if not millions in fees from the participating retailers and they’ve now got themselves a database of people interested in these types of sales and possibly their preferred purchases, very useful for targeted marketing of events.
So this time I’m going to make a series of predictions which I honestly hope are proved wrong. No seriously just for once I’d like my cynical bastard theories proven wrong. Please Australian retailers, we need this.
Click Frenzy Will Suffer At Least One Major Crash
One of the biggest issues last time was the Click Frenzy site and those of the participating retailers could not handle the load and failed. A lot. Contrary to the belief of some retailers having your site crash under an anticipated load is not a good thing. You had time to prepare, you should have systems and plans in place to handle the load. Running around going “Yah! We’re so popular our site can’t be accessed!” is actually a really shitty reaction. On the internet people very rarely come back of they can’t get access the first time around. Their time has value too.
This time around Power Retail has gotten somewhat over excited and promised Click Frenzy will totally stay up this time and has even been quoted as saying:
“…the site is well-equipped to cater for an “infinite” number of online shoppers“
Yep you can tell they are in marketing. If you’re going to boast, boast big. Problem is when you make that sort of claim, well, people remember it. I know I will. My prediction here is either:
- Murphy’s Law will kick in and make damn sure something implodes, probably on the busiest day possible or;
- Someone out there will take this as a challenge and throw everything they’ve got at the site. Some people just want to see the world burn.
Now Power Retail can not be held to account for how well the individual retailer websites hold up but if they really are working with them and they are indeed learning lessons from last year you’d hope like hell that maybe they’ve put some extra cash aside for infrastructure this time.
2013-04-05 Update: Seems they are comfortable making the “infinite customers” claim this time around as it’s sitting on the Amazon Web Services infrastructure which will certainly give it more of an edge this time around and is a pretty sensible move. However AWS is far from flawless in performance but it does make my prediction far less likely.
2013-04-09 Update: As predicted News Ltd has learnt nothing from being used as a hype inducer the last time around and has faithfully regurgitated this news in a can about the new Click Frenzy site running on the Akami network. While this is good and all it doesn’t provide any assurances that Click Frenzys back ends will be able to keep pace (assuming there is actually demand this time around).
The Sales Will Contain Crap
Sorry to be rather blunt but from my perspective (and apparently many others) the items on offer during the Click Frenzy were, well, underwhelming. It mostly appeared to be a dumping ground of products the stores wanted to get rid of anyway and in many cases the prices were still more than those that could be obtained on other online retailer sites any day of the year.
I don’t honestly expect much different this time around, especially with the announcement of a Mother’s Day, Fathers’s Day and End Of Financial Year Click Frenzies. You know what that means? We’ll get themed crap instead. Just like at the real stores! Yah! Oh wait. I mean yawn.
On the flip side Power Retail is claiming the amount of sales last year was “well over $10 million” so clearly some people out there don’t object to buying crap if they think it’s a steal. Maybe I’m just in the wrong demographic for the Click Frenzy market.
2013-04-23 Update: As we approach Mother’s Day and the first of the “new look” Frenzies, Power Retail has embarked on their rounds of hype generation, including “teasing” a handful of sales to News Ltd, who thankfully seem to be a little more cynical this time around. One of the items being teased is 75% off a throw rug. A throw rug. Have you ever been so desperate that you think “gee if only that throw rug was 75% off I’d totally buy it”? No. No one is. No one will be and frankly if this is the best they can lead with in terms of teasers how incredibly crap must the rest of the offerings be?
There Will Be A Lot Of Complaints
As mentioned earlier Power Retail now has a handy database of interested consumers, possibly even broken down into what categories those consumers are interested in left over from last years attempt. This is exceptionally useful as it means they are no longer going in blind and can take a much more targeted approach in marketing the sales. It also means they are less reliant of media hype.
When people signed up last time they may not have noticed this entitles Power Retail to happily spam them on anything related to Click Frenzy until they unsubscribe (and to the best of my knowledge the unsubscribe function does actually work as required by the Australian SPAM Act).
My prediction here is a lot of the consumers from last year have not as yet unsubscribed from Click Frenzy list as there’s been nothing particular to remind them they did so sent to it since the very public failure last time. As the new Frenzies kick into marketing high gear however I suspect we’ll start to see emails being sent out to those lists and a subsequent angry reaction from some consumers burnt from last year.
Power Retail could of course mitigate this by starting from scratch but given the media might not be as hype inducing friendly this time around they’d be fools not to use the previously acquired data. One hopes however they have though through this potential backlash and have put procedures in place to handle it well. Hopefully not in the same way their Facebook page treated people last year.
Prove Me Wrong
Please Click Frenzy and Australian retailers prove me wrong. Prove to the Australian consumers that you can in fact deliver what people want. Provide services that work, products people want and in a way that doesn’t annoy the ever living crap out of us. I would be very happy if you could even just prove the first two predictions wrong as I concede the third will probably occur in any case. Prove that the famously conservative Australian retailers can pull their fingers out and actually achieve a worthy goal.
The time of whining about online sales stealing all your customers and how it’s terribly unfair that you have all these extra burdens is long gone. The average Australian consumer does not give a damn about your sob stories after you’ve had it so good for so many decades. This is a damn good opportunity for you to grab people early, if you provide a good experience people will come back even if you can’t compete on price. Pull yourselves from wallowing in self pity and get the hell on with moving into the future.
Could Even A Second Failure Be Good?
So let’s say for the sake of argument the cynical bastard in me is proven right yet again and the Frenzies become Fizzles. Is there still good that could come of this? Quite possibly. The extra sales Power Retail are shoving in this time might actually mean Australian retailers might decide to provide a decent online experience all the time rather than just a once off attempt followed by yet another whinge of how the big bad internet is eating all their profits.
Just maybe even sales of end of season crap might translate into a thought process of “hey this internet thing might just work” followed by “well if we provide a good enough service” If we are extremely lucky they might even start pushing back against suppliers about higher wholesale prices for items in Australia and stop blaming the consumer for simply choosing the most effective purchasing system available to them. I still doubt we’d be that lucky but maybe this rise from the grave from Click Frenzy might in fact signal Australian retailers are finally emerging from the shell of online sales ignorance.
PostScript – The Curious Search Patterns
In a curious coincidence I recently noticed a sudden spike of clustered search requests hitting the previous Click Frenzy pages. Further investigations showed that many of them were coming from Macquarie University networks. The obvious conclusion was it was for some sort of assignment. After a little cajoling I located someone who admitted that yes it was for a marketing assignment (due the next day) and they were nice enough to provide the questions in the assignment:
Q1a. What is Click Frenzy?
b. How and why did this idea originate?
Q2. How did consumers make their decisions on whether or not to buy products/services from Click
Frenzy, and how did they arrive at their final purchasing decision?
Q3a. Evaluate the positioning of Click Frenzy. Have they defined their positioning correctly?
b. Who is their target market?
c. What is their main points-of-parity and points-of-difference?
Q4a. What competitive frames of reference does Click Frenzy face?
b. What are the implications of those frames of reference for its positioning?
Q5a. Identify Click Frenzy‘s sources of brand equity.
b. Assess its level of brand awareness and the strength, favourability, and uniqueness of its
Q6. Do you think Click Frenzy did a good job in managing its visitors and customers? Why?
Q7. How did Social Media impact the reputation of Click Frenzy, before and after the sales period?
Q8. How can retailers prepare for a Click Frenzy?
Q9. Using other strong brands which have been born online (eg, Google, Facebook), how do you
build a successful online brand?
Q10. What do you think are the future branding challenges and opportunities for Click Frenzy?
Curious isn’t it? The exact questions you’d be asking if, oh I don’t know, you were looking to relaunch a brand that ended with a sour public experience. Oh and for future reference students, Googling the questions verbatim from your assignment sheet is not the best research idea ever.