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Click Frenzy still a click flop

Click Frenzy said this year’s version of the annual online shopping promotion would generate $200 million in sales. It came in at around a quarter of that number.

Not that you would know that reading the self-congratulatory twaddle surrounding the event. The fact that those associated with it will not publish overall sales numbers is proof enough of its failure. Instead they resort to percentage growth rate numbers, which at first glance are impressive but which on closer analysis are not.

Last week Adobe’s digital marketing people were predicting that this year’s Click Frenzy would reach $189 million in sales. Founder Grant Arnott said as much as $200 million.

The 24 online shopping spree has ended (though its blog says it has now been extended with ‘Frenzy Lite’ – another indication that numbers were not quite what was hoped).

Technology partner IBM reported this year’s Click Frenzy as a great success, with “online sales up 27.7% over the same period in 2013.”

Wow! Record sales for Click Frenzy! But IBM was careful not to disclose the actual amount of sales generated by the event. That’s because some simple mathematics exposes the fact that sales were way, way below Arnott’s and Adobe’s optimistic predictions.

IBM generated a detailed report on the 2013 Click Frenzy, available here. That report didn’t mention overall sales numbers either, but did say they were up 16.3% over the inaugural 2012 event, which was plagued by ‘Click Fail’ meltdowns.

So, we know the growth rate from 2012 to 2013, and from 2013 to this year’s event. All we need is some baseline data and we can work out this year’s sales. Trouble is, it is very difficult to find the numbers.

Lots of stuff on growth rates and average sales. Nothing on the actual volume of sales being generated. So we need to dig a little deeper. Last year Arnott was widely quoted as saying just after the event that “We’re now thinking our initial estimates of $15 to $20 million in revenue are pretty conservative.” (After predicting as much as $100 million beforehand). Let’s say 2013 sales were twice as high as Arnott’s “conservative” $20 million estimate. That would be $40 million.

So – a 27.7% increase on that would put us at $51 million for this year – just over a quarter of Adobe’s widely published $189 million.

On these numbers, Click Frenzy is a resounding failure. It is all marketing hype, with no substance. Check out the blurb on Click Frenzy’s website:

“7pm Tuesday, November 20, 2012, launched the first real sale that stops the nation, two weeks after the Race That Stops The Nation, the world famous Melbourne Cup.

“Every year since, on the third Tuesday in November, Click Frenzy becomes the focal point of retail in Australia - a 24-hour online shopping mega-sale that captures national attention. Think Boxing Day Sales on digital steroids!”

Every year since! Umm … that would be 2013 and 2014. All froth and bubble and no substance.

IBM has now published key trends for Click Frenzy 2014. Note that nowhere are actual sales numbers mentioned. Why so shy?

  • Click Frenzy online sales were up 27.7% over the same period in 2013. 
  • Click Frenzy mobile traffic reached 43%, up 29.4% over the same period in 2013.
  • Click Frenzy mobile sales reached 20.4%, up 15.3% over the same period in 2013.

“As consumers become more comfortable with digital coupons average order value increased to $151.02, an increase of 15.2% over the same period in 2013. This indicates that shoppers are being much savvier in how they use online coupons and rebates to secure the best bargains.  Shoppers purchased an average of five items per order, up 48.5% over last year.

“Smartphones drove 24.8% of total online traffic, outpacing tablets, which drove 18.3% of overall traffic.  However, tablets are winning the shopping war.  Tablet sales accounted for 13.3% of online sales, nearly twice that of smartphones which drove 7.1%.

“Even so, many shoppers chose a more traditional online experience with desktop traffic representing 56.7% of all online traffic, and desktop sales reaching 79.6% of all online sales.  Further, consumers spent more money on average on their desktops at $161.76 than their mobile devices at $121.82 - a difference of 32.8%.”

I don’t know about you, but I find these numbers underwhelming, given the massive growth in smartphone usage in Australia, and numbers on online shopping in Australia that have been published elsewhere.

IBM then quotes its retail industry lead Ian Wong as saying: “Our hypothesis is that omni-channel retail experiences have really taken hold in Australia over the last 12 months. We anticipate customers are fusing in-store experiences, using the concept of ‘show-rooming’ to touch and feel products, complemented by mobile browsing both in and out of store, and then using the convenience of online to make the purchase.

“Australians are really making the most of multiple retail channels to get the best products and best deals possible – and we anticipate this trend will continue to grow in popularity.”

Wow, again! IBM has a ‘hypothesis’ and ‘anticipates’ growth.

Click Frenzy is a failure. It is an overhyped and underperforming piece of marketing crap.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.