Myer Calls Click Frenzy a Runaway Success Despite Web Site Crash; Critics Hit Flimsy Deals

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By Vittorio Hernandez | November 26, 2012 9:57 AM EST

Success or failure? The Click Frenzy on Nov 20 in Australia was met with mixed reviews with a major retailer calling the event a runaway success, while critics who bit the hype that it was the sale that would stop the nation were disappointed not only because of the Web site's crash but also the flimsy deals made available.

Myer Chief Bernie Brookes pointed out that similar technical glitches have bugged the equivalent of Click Frenzy in the U.S., Cyber Monday, in previous years. However, he admitted the Web site crash is an indicator that Aussie retailers need to perfect their Internet offering.

"Bricks and mortar retailers are learning how to be good at the online shopping space, but I think give credit for the fact that we're starting to get into that space and we're making quantum leaps on where we were," The Australian quoted Mr Brookes.

Myer doubled its online sales on Tuesday despite the technical problem because of the deluge of users who attempted to log on at the same time.

"Sure the Web site crashed. It crashed on the night, but it worked bloody well yesterday (Wednesday) and it gave us some tremendous sales," News.com.au quoted Mr Brooke's address at the Australian Retailers Association breakfast on in Sydney, which he used to push for amending the general sales tax exemption of online purchases made overseas for items below $1,000.

He also favoured another overnight cash rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australian in December to boost the retail industry in a run-up to what the industry anticipates as a flat Christmas period despite the shopping frenzy that happened on Nov 20.

Mr Brookes admitted that retailers new to the online scene need to learn how to manage simultaneous large volumes of visits to their portals.

"We've got to understand is how to make sure it's easy for the customer to move from purchasing a product to getting to the stage of going to the checkout . . . and the third thing is how to best display the product on show," he added.

Experian Marketing Services, which tracked the Click Frenzy traffic, estimated the number of visits to various Australian retail Web sites at 8.7 million over two days. Most of the visits were made by shoppers below 55 years old, disclosed Experian head of Consulting and Research Dave Audley.

"While there has been much criticism of the technical failures of the vent, one thing is clear: Australians are hungry for online sales and there is huge potential for retailers in the Australian market to fulfill this gap by providing a seamless shopping experience," The Australian quoted Mr Audley.

Another analytics firm, Quantium, said the retailers that participated in Click Frenzy logged combined sales volume 2 1/2 times higher than their previous biggest sales day.

Even online retailers that were not officially part of Click Frenzy enjoyed a 30 per cent boost in their online sales for the same 24-hour period.

"This data shows that there was a bit of a halo effect that occurred as a result of the hype surrounding the event," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Quantium Director Tony Davis.

He said that one-fourth of all sales for participating brands were made between 7 p.m. and midnight, while the biggest period of sales activity was between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Wednesday. About 10 per cent of Australian online shoppers made more than one transaction and 50 per cent shopped across different product categories.

Michael Dykes, head of Dick Smith's Multi-Channel, said their Web site received 175,000 visitors on Click Frenzy, with most of the clicks coming through from Google.

Despite the apparent success of Click Frenzy, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that some bargain hunters spent their Tuesday night hitting the refresh button on their browsers and when most of them succeeded by Wednesday morning, they found the bargains to be slim.

Some frustrated clickers said the deals were over 50 per cent higher than the price in international online retailers such as Amazon and ASOS, while other s said the prices were similar to regular prices for the same items offered by other Australian retailers, save for few exceptions.

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