For the first thirty seconds, it felt all nostalgic. Kinda like 1995 when I first used the internet and the AltaVista search engine would take thirty zillion years to load. At the thirty-first second it just felt sad.
At 8pm last night I tried to log on to ClickFrenzy. Not with the intent of purchasing anything, rather, to peruse prices and to check out how close offerings were to bridging that ominous gap between overseas online prices and in-store gouges.
Before lamenting the hideousness of ClickFrenzy, it’s probably best I give a teeny bit of background.
Each Friday after Thanksgiving in the US, stores offer massive markdowns: Black Friday. People get shot, they get stabbed, at best they get pepper-sprayed, all in a holiday-spirited pursuit of a bargain. The following Monday the sales move online – Cyber Monday – for those who’d rather their shopping not be a contact sport.
Whenever folks overseas think of Australians as backward, moccasin-wearing bogans, it’s ClickFrenzy – our woeful attempt to emulate Cyber Monday – that they’re thinking about.
I’ve written previously about the demise of the department store in Australia. This has occurred for a good number of reasons, one being that retailers in Australia took far too long to go digital. Evidently harbouring an illogical disbelief that online trading would never take off, they held back. At their peril. And Australians – with vigour, with fervour – got our online shopping education from overseas merchants.
Eventually Australian traders did put up stores in varying degrees of crapness, but it was far too late: foreign peddlers taught us how to give our credit cards a workout, taught us about the buying power of the Australian dollar and taught us that we could exploit our homegrown department stores as showrooms. There was never any opportunity for us to harbour any loyalty for lacklustre online incarnations of Australian stores.
So ClickFrenzy was a tardy effort to change the landscape. It was an embarrassingly late acknowledgement that Australians like shopping online, but was centred on cajoling them to make all those midnight, pyjama-clad impulse purchases in-country.
The torment started with the mere existence of ClickFrenzy: here was a website “coordinating” online sales. It – in theory because the site still hasn’t loaded for me, nor incidentally, for a zillion folks on Twitter – was the hosting of a space where retailers could together hawk their sales. Why? Having a website coordinate activities feels like we’ve got the frumpiest, tracky dack-clad chaperone suggesting we peruse their car-boot full of soiled onesies.
Worse than the administrative front however, ClickFrenzy had the gall to ask us to pre-register just to view the specials! To merely “see” – and I use this term theoretically – the promised bargains, I needed to supply an email address, a mobile phone number.
I truly applaud Australian retailers for attempting to save their sector: retail employs lots of people and as I’ve argued previously, I quite like the existence of department stores. But, offering lame facsimiles of American initiatives confirms why it’s just so much easier to shop where it’s cheapest. Wherever that may be. Assuming loyalty out of some sense of patriotism is incredibly delusional.
And no, the site still hadn’t loaded by 9pm.
November 21, 2012
© Lauren Rosewarne