Click go the cash registers

The major problem with the flawed Click Frenzy experiment was that it was too popular. The lesson to be learnt is there is a huge upside for Australian retailers in going online.

Whatever you thought of Click Frenzy, 7pm on Tuesday November 20 was a landmark moment for online retail in Australia.

Our little project was to create a 24-hour online sales event bringing together approximately 200 retailers including some of Australia’s most prominent brands. However, it grew way beyond our expectations – the widespread media coverage and commentary during the build-up cornered the nation’s attention.

Over 1.5 million Australian shoppers were poised over any kind of internet-enabled device at 7pm that Tuesday. The good money was on chaos, and unfortunately for us – it happened.

When Click Frenzy was conceived, our grand ambition was to see 300,000-plus customers explore our sale through the 24-hour period. We had invested in capacity for up to one million visitors over 24 hours, and history now shows we saw some two million attempts to access the site in the first few minutes around 7pm.

Were we caught by surprise? Yes, and we learnt the harshest of lessons through hindsight. In the space of 12 hours, our registration numbers and traffic volumes spiked five times higher than we had forecast, and though we were as ready as we could be given the massive shift on the day of the sale, the site was strained.

Hard work from the technical team and rapid deployment of additional server capacity (which had been occurring all day as fast as possible) restored service later in the evening which was maintained throughout the following day. We started receiving messages indicating retailers were recording excellent results, but at the same time we knew we had disappointed a number of our clients. These concerns are being addressed on a case-by-case basis as we work through what the issues were.

By the end of the Click Frenzy week, it was clear we had in fact achieved our overall objective of creating a massive day for online sales. According to data from Quantium, participating retailers collectively saw an uplift of more than two times their best online sales day. What was also exciting was the general uplift of online retail sales across both participating and non-participating retailers.

That was and remains the mission of Click Frenzy, but we cannot claim success when there were more than a few problems with the event. The concept was sound, the results fantastic, but our relatively small team was overwhelmed. When Click Frenzy grew so quickly in terms of retailer participation, media coverage and audience a week before the event, our personnel and processes were seriously stretched.

Now we know. A site that didn’t exist two months ago served over 1.6 million customers in two days and delivered 22 million page impressions. That was far, far beyond our wildest expectations, and we admittedly were overwhelmed on a number of fronts.

What Click Frenzy did show was the enormous appetite for online shopping in Australia with Australian retailers. We rejected significant revenue from big name international retail brands wanting to tap our audience, and we delivered a significant single day uplift for the local market. We’ll take pride in that, although it’s tempered by the unfortunate outage and negative reporting of the event.

The lessons from Click Frenzy are many, not merely for the team behind this initiative but for the retail industry at large. Click Frenzy identified the size of the online opportunity for Australian retailers, both traditional and bricks and mortar. Regardless of speculation over the offers, we know hundreds of thousands of transactions took place during Click Frenzy. And that is despite the outage and counter to the ‘Clickfail’ moniker.

We stuffed up plenty, but ultimately Click Frenzy has proven its point – give customers the right proposition, and they will shop online in droves at Australian retail stores.

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Click Frenzy report from
Quantium.

Grant Arnott is the director of Click Frenzy.