Key takeaways

  • Australians love a ‘genuine’ sale. Retailers need to recognise that consumer awareness and expectation of the e-commerce experience is becoming increasingly sophisticated and informed
  • If not actively managed social media, especially during a crisis can be your worst enemy
  • In the digital world execution is everything – there is no such thing as a quick fix

Built up as the ‘sale that stops a nation’, with the tantalising promise, of a 24 hour event packed with huge discounts, big brands and the online convenience of shopping from home instead of the struggle for fighting for deals in store.

Click Frenzy was the first of its kind in Australia, a national sale event based on the successful US model, CyberMonday, in which retailers join arms and post huge discounts in a bid to generate sales activity and get a head start in the lead up to Christmas.

The sale went live at 7pm last night, but within minutes it all turned for the worse as the Click Frenzy site crashed due to the volume of visitors. Ironically, Click Frenzy had stopped a nation dead in its tracks, but unfortunately left them with the unfulfilled promise of great products and big deals.

Over the last 12 hours the PR storm has grown with newspapers, blogs, social media and even mainstream TV headlining with the riotous chant of #clickfrenzyfail – leaving many retailers wondering who the real winner is.

So now, with half a day left in the sale what can retailers really learn from this initiative?

1. Australians consumers love a ‘genuine’ sale

One of the key success points for Click Frenzy thus far is the huge amount of market awareness and activity it was able to generate in a relatively short period of time. With hundreds of retailers and brands signed up to the event, Click Frenzy was able to leverage the brand rub and sign up thousands of customers to the site which further supports the widely known belief that Australian consumers love a sale and will search far and wide for a good bargain.

Although no specific metrics have been released, the large volume of traffic that resulted in the site crashing was a promising sign of potential future success for these one off sales events in Australia.

Click Frenzy Fail - Jamie Oliver Offer

Disgruntled consumers pointed out that this deal for a Jamie Oliver cookbook was not competitive and available at other retailers for less.

2. Respect the ‘informed’ consumer

The days of local retailers dictating product ranges, pricing and promotion are gone. With the rise of globalisation and the adoption of online shopping consumers are far better educated and resourceful in finding great products at great prices.

Following the launch of Click Frenzy, consumers immediately began comparing the ‘deals’ to local and international offers, highlighting the lack of value from some of the ClickFrenzy offers via Facebook.

One example (seen below) is Jamie Olivers 15-minute meals book, on sale for $26.95 via the Click Frenzy site. Customers were quick to respond calling out that the same book is available for less elsewhere (~$15 from the UK and under $25 at BigW and K-mart at a non-sale price).

3. If not actively managed, social media can be your worst enemy

Click Frenzy has been extremely successful in utilising social media to generate consumer awareness by tapping into the reach and voice of the social community through Google+, Facebook and Twitter. However, many Australian consumers have since turned and are using social media to attack the brand. The most prominent activity is through the Twitter handle and hashtags ‘#clickfrenzyfail’ and ‘#clickfail’, as well as via a specially set-up Click Frenzy Fail Facebook page, which has amassed over 3,600 fans in its 19 hour history.

One disgruntled customer has taken matters one step further and posted a creative video on YouTube that targets the poor execution and product offers, which received over 7,500 views in less than 12 hours.

4. In the digital world execution is everything

There is no doubt that the Click Frenzy campaign has done a lot of great things over the last few weeks – ultimately the inability to execute on the promise of a ‘user-friendly online marketplace built to withstand enormous concurrent traffic volumes’ was undoubtedly its biggest undoing.

Testing, as arduous as it is, must scale at least in lock step with any claims made to customers. As the claims get more ambitious, so too must testing become more focussed and detailed, in order to ensure expectations are met.

In this instance, the apparent surprise of Click Frenzy’s management on the impact of the ‘tsunami of customers’ on their infrastructure, indicates a less-than-thorough testing program, eerily paralleling the well documented example of the Republican Party’s ‘Orca’ campaign, widely regarded as a failure by the wider technology community.

Execution is everything online and unfortunately for Click Frenzy, as with many retailers the last mile is where they have failed and copped the most criticism, potentially beyond repair.

5. There is no such thing as a quick fix

The final key learning from this campaign is that there is no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to online retailing. A flashy sales event may drive traffic and awareness, but it is not sustainable and does provide true value to the consumer on its own. In order for retailers to compete on a global scale a transformational approach is required to deliver a competitive pricing and product offer through improved supply chain, operational structures and a razor-sharp focus on bringing value to the customer.

What are your thoughts? Will Click Frenzy be back next year better than ever or is this a one-time PR bonanza?

*Thanks to Lichan Cheah (@poojou) for his support and insights on this topic.