I never intended to write a follow-up to my original Click Frenzy post from over a month ago as it was entirely predictable that no matter if it was a success or failure, thousands of pundits and social media/cyber “experts” would pour out of the woodwork to give their analysis (but really to cash in on the sudden spike of news).
This has indeed happened with dozens of them appearing in newspapers, on radio and on TV espousing their “expert” opinions despite having said absolutely zero on the subject in the month leading up to what turned out to be an epic failure.
Failure For Who?
This is where it gets all rather sad. The parent company of Click Frenzy, Power Retail, is not surprisingly calling it a giant success and the fact their website couldn’t stay up just meant it was “overwhelmingly popular”
To be fair it was a giant success for Power Retail. They made thousands, if not millions from the retailers who jumped on board, gathered a huge database of consumer information which by itself has significant value and showed that it was all too easy to successfully hype your event with the help of tame Fairfax and News Ltd reporters who gleefully spoon up their news in can to their readership/viewers with zero investigative journalism occurring.
Retailers didn’t really feel the sting because frankly none of the retailers involved have really ever liked the world of online sales, treating it as an annoying afterthought that they begrudgingly entered into, complaining the whole way. A few managed to sell old stock and get rid of stuff they would have only had to warehouse anyway. The fact that many of their websites didn’t hold up really doesn’t bother them.
Well We Tried…
This just leaves one group who came out worst from this. Us. The Australian consumers. Despite all my cynicism in my earlier post, part of me did hope against hope that maybe, just maybe this time Australian retailers might get it together. Maybe they will surprise us and be dragged kicking and screaming into the new century. I am rather saddened to find it went pretty much the way I expected it to.
The big retailers in Australia loathe online shopping because it drastically shifts the balance of power they have so enjoyed for many, many decades. Online shopping means they don’t get to dictate the shopping hours, that people expect a decent range of actually available items and finally if that can be done at decent price, even better.
As a result most of the implementation of online shopping by the big retailers in Australia has been half assed, poorly conceived and treated as annoying side project rather than an exciting opportunity to reach out to meet consumers changing demands.
It’s About The Service Stupid
This was all reflected in last night’s epic Click Frenzy failure. Australian retailers continue to labour under the very, very stupid notion that the only reason Australian shop online is price. This is why a sales event was pimped to them by Power Retail – everyone loves a sale right? People will only flock to you if you have the cheapest price around! SIGN UP NOW!
This stupid and incredibly arrogant viewpoint of Australian consumers was shining through in this snippet from Click Frenzy facebook page when asked why their servers weren’t handling the load:
“Just like the Boxing Day sales, crowds are to be expected. For those experiencing difficulty, we recommend you check back in later when the storm has calmed enough for you to break through on your end”
See consumers? You should just be glad these retailers put on sale for you and just deal with the down servers, crappy offers and general annoyance of the entire event. You should just expect sites to have problems. This is your problem not theirs. After all you’re getting great prices right?
I only have one response to that. Bullshit. What a colossal cart load of bullshit. This is very old world retail thinking and reflects the opinion that consumers will put up with poor service in order to grab a bargain
Price is only one factor in why people shop online. They also want a decent range and most importantly good service. This means servers that stay up, shopping carts with easy usability, payment systems that don’t make you want to take your eyeballs out with a spoon and support staff that actually understand the needs of online shoppers.
Instead what most Australian retailers give us online are half-baked systems that still try to funnel you to the brick and mortar store in some fashion because heaven forbid they stop walking in the actual door.
Sadly all this Click Frenzy failure will do is galvanise the Australian retailers belief that online sales “aren’t worth the effort”. They’ll knuckle down and cry about how it’s unfair overseas importers don’t pay GST (not entirely true) or spin complete rubbish about how Australian should implement a special tax system to protect their antiquated ways.
Not one will call a board meeting and discuss maybe their online strategy is broken. Just maybe they might have to acknowledge the balance of power in the retailer/consumer relationship has undergone a major shift. And finally maybe they made a colossal mistake being sucked into to the hype cycle that Click Frenzy so eloquently generated. I’m willing to bet almost none of the retailers involved will see a return on their investment in this charade.
Australia needs the big retailers to grow up, pay attention to online shopping as the way forward and deal with the fact that his means change. Yes change is scary and often painful. Deal with it, or to use one of my favourite expressions: Evolve or Die.
Postscript – Here Come The Vultures
For the last month News Ltd and Fairfax have done nothing but faithfully regurgitate the syndicated media releases handed to them by Power Retail. Not one bit of investigation was done on it. No attempt to see if maybe this was a bit of over credited hype. They published more or less as is thankful for the space filler. Good old news in a can, always a tasty treat!
Oh how the worm has turned. Now that the event has been universally panned both major news entities (who also fail pretty hard at the whole online thing) are suddenly experts on online shopping and a providing in depth analysis, something they entirely failed to do before the event. Nothing like a bit of disaster porn to fire up the old clickbait articles hey?
Take this “serious news piece” by Fairfax Technology Editor Asher Moses. Asher only ever comes out of the woodwork when there’s a topic he can cash in on. Prior to yesterday Asher has written not a single word on Click Frenzy, not one analysis if it might work before the event. Just allowed his minions to spew forth the PR they were provided.
Yet in the many hundreds of words in the articles there is zero mention of the part played by the media in over hyping the event, the way they gorged themselves on the news in can provided to them by Power Retail. No looking at how Power Retail skilfully played them all like a pair of bongo drums. It’s rather pathetic.
News Ltd is no better with this piece that makes it sound as if they knew there was going to be problems and once again ignores the part they played in this whole mess. However they really hit a new low when they decided to also cash in on the failure and release this article giving direct links to the deals and pretending they are the saviour of consumers for doing so. Never mind that sites like Lifehacker had done all that legwork yesterday and were well ahead of them.
I’d love to see ABC Mediawatch do a special on this. The media played a heavy part in this craptacular event but are choosing to ignore that fact for their benefit. What utter, utter scum.