Yeah, we told you this would happen. As soon as it launched at 7pm yesterday, the Click Frenzy 'Cyber Tuesday' sale site was entirely inaccessible or unusably slow for most people, a situation that persisted for hours in many cases. Combine that with a so-so selection of bargains and it seems clear that while we're all interested in hunting down a good deal, attempting to corral them all in one place didn't help anyone much.
With the site itself proving unable to cope, Click Frenzy temporarily took to posting details of bargains directly on its Twitter and Facebook pages, complete with links straight to those retailers. That underscored the point that companies which decided to jump on the bandwagon with copycat sales, by buying out related keywords on Google (hello, Harvey Norman) or who leaked their deals well ahead of time, were in a position to do much better than those who relied on Click Frenzy itself to deliver buyers.
Click Frenzy used Facebook to post an apology for the problems, though it was a little difficult to spot between the frenzied spruiking and the constant complaints from annoyed customers:
The technical directors, developers and infrastructure specialists involved in this inaugural event are working to get to the root of what occurred with the wave of traffic at 7pm. I am not in a position to describe exactly what has occurred yet as the teams involved are working on the solution first to resolve any problems. We will provide answers as soon as they are available.
We'll tell the team what happened: you got swamped. Despite that apology, the FAQ for Click Frenzy still features this claim at the time of writing:
WILL YOUR SERVERS CRASH? We sure hope not! We know there will be enormous volumes of visitors during Click Frenzy, particularly during the early part of the event, but we have taken every precaution to ensure our servers will not go down, and we have advised our retailers of the traffic volumes they should expect.
Oh dear. Undoubtedly some people will have scored good deals, and other retailers are reporting a surge of traffic to their sites. But it hardly seems to have set up the basis for an annual event, or a global Click Frenzy franchise.
The main lesson for retailers is this: while Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales around Thanksgiving are a phenomenon in the US, they didn't get that way because one operator tried to become the gateway to all the deals. No-one gets to own those occasions, just as no-one owns Christmas catalogues or Boxing Day sales or mid-year toy sales. And for consumers, the lesson is the obvious truth we've been pointing out all along: if you want to score a real bargain, you need to shop around, not just blindly sign up to the first available offer just because it's only available for 24 hours.