Consumers cry #clickfail, but some retailers and analysts say it was a roaring success, while others are asking for refunds.
Today Click Frenzy was licking its wounds after the technical frenzy the inaugural sales event turned into, which left thousands of customers disgruntled after the ‘Click’ site keeled over just after its 7pm start yesterday.
It was not until 10 pm – three hours later – that organisers were able to get the web site back up and running, and issued its first apology at 9:52, blaming “technical issues”. The Click site is said to be up and down since it opened yesterday.
Click Frenzy confirmed today it was prepared for up to 1 million unique visitors in the 24 hours, but instead there were “millions of queries to www.clickfrenzy.com.au in the first few minutes from 7pm last night” according to UltraServe data.
The “site was unable to sustain the load, which was multiple times greater than the maximum capacity we had forecast,” the organisers said, who had billed the online sale day as “the event that stops a nation.”
One retailer involved is calling the event ” a disaster of epic proportions,” Deals Direct chief marketing officer Linda Barrett told Herald Sun.
“Every dealing I had with [Click Frenzy founder] Grant Arnott and his team they were talking it up, but clearly they just really didn’t understand.” Some retailers including The Iconic are now said to be asking for refunds on the thousands of dollars paid to Click Frenzy, citing potential brand damage.
Ruslan Kogan, CEO of Kogan, who was involved in Click Frenzy also said:”I feel sorry for retailers who did pay them.”
“Every single retail who paid them for a listing will be disappointed. It’s like paying to advertise in the Daily Telegraph and then the Daily Telegraph deciding not to print the newspaper that day.”
But Aussie consumers on the twittersphere weren’t happy with the mess with many leaving the site empty handed:
“Sad thing about #clickfail is that all the servers crashing could have been avoided very easily, no consideration was given to scale,” one person wrote.
“Is anyone really surprised at #clickfail? just reinforces my argument how unprepared Aus Execs are for Digital Economy” another consumer cried.
#clickfrenzy certainly has people talking and was one of the top 10 trending topics on Twitter today.
But, in fact, the 2 million or so consumers who flocked to Click Frenzy and associated retailer sites looking for a bargain, was the root cause of the web crash.
Several major retailer sites including Myer and Toys R Us were among the sites that were inaccessible for several hours after 7pm. They didn’t get up and running until several hours later.
Retailers were charged an ad fee of up to $33,000 to partake in the Frenzy – and there were multiple advertisement packages for retailers, a source told SmartHouse. Banner ads were said to cost retailers $2,000-$6,000.
“The event that stops a nation” (and websites)
Click Frenzy co-founder Grant Arnott, again today said “we deeply apologise for the frustration our customers experienced” adding “we are fully committed to ensuring full service for the remainder of the event, and addressing concerns.”
The founder said the event which kicked off at 7pm yesterday was an “extraordinary day for digital commerce in Australia” and said “public interest in Click Frenzy surged well beyond anything we anticipated.””Engineers at UltraServe who have been working continuously to add capacity worked feverishly to restore service by 10pm, and continued working through the night and will continue endeavours throughout today to maintain performance.”
The web event, the first of its kind in Oz, was first launched six weeks ago and 200 retailers including Bing Lee, Dick Smith, Target and Chemist Warehouse took part.
Retailers recorded “record sales and traffic volumes as a result of Click Frenzy” Arnott insisted, saying he was “thankful” for the support of a “number of retailers” after the technical hick up.
Target Australia’s Managing Director, Dene Rogers, told SmartHouse the company was “delighted by the response to Click Frenzy” and recorded a massive 250,000 customers to its online store in the first 12 hours alone.
“We recognised the issues some customers were experiencing accessing offers on the Click Frenzy site, so quickly used social media to share the news that our online store was running at full capacity despite the considerable increase in traffic.”
But is Target worried consumers may be disillusioned with online shopping on its site following the web crash?
“In the lead-up to the Christmas period, our customers can shop online with confidence and we’ll continue to monitor our site to ensure it offers a seamless experience”, Rogers added.
Chemist Warehouse, another retailer involved, said it was very “pleased” with the event and enjoyed “record sales and traffic.”
It is also delivering 90% of the products ordered during the 24 hours tomorrow, a spokesperson told SmartHouse.
But will it be rejoining the Click Frenzy next year?
Yes, provided “it all comes out ok in the wash,” the spokesperson added, referring to the web crash and possible PR fallout.
However, Arnott also dismissed “rumours” Click Frenzy will be using the information gathered from consumers, who were required to register for the event, for third party marketing purposes.
“This is untrue – we respect the precious nature of permission given and we categorically state that we have not and will not sell or rent any customer information to third parties.”
However,Click Frenzy wasn’t the only site experiencing ‘issues’ following hoards of consumers looking to get a bargain – David Jones who also hijacked the online frenzy sale by having a 24 hours sale of its own yesterday, also suffered web difficulties but was back up and running by 5.23 pm, a spokesperson confirmed.
However local analysts Telstye see the site overload as a good sign for web commerce in Oz.
The site overloaded on certain categories only, says Telstye analyst Sam Yip, which shows that people were heavily interested in electronics, toys and fashion, which were the main overloaded categories.
The one off online event seems to be a “mixed bag” with lots of retailers were involved – some with good bargains and other less so.
In addition, each retailer is at a different stage of its ecommerce rollout reflecting the ‘mixed bag’ of offers.
However, the huge audience it attracted shows consumers enjoy browsing and looking for bargains online, says Yip.
The audience was made up of two types of consumers – those who were impulse buying and those who were after a specific item.
And although Yip agrees the event attracted “hype” but the big question is ‘where to next’ for retailers.
Aggregators like Click Frenzy create hype but the next step is for sites to go it alone and deals like these “should be an event that happens all the time” and retailers should be carrying offers on a daily or weekly basis and not just once a year, the analyst said.
“The most successful online stores are the ones that run deals every day to keep customers engaged”- similar to the loss leaders or ‘special offers’ bricks and mortar stores have at the shop front to lure customers in.
The consumer frenzy surrounding Click Frenzy shows demand is there, says Yip.