Starting at 7pm AEDT on Tuesday November 20 and running for just 24 hours, the Click Frenzy sale site is positioning itself as an Australian alternative to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales which dominate US retailing around Thanksgiving. I'm all for hunting down a bargain, but I'm not entirely convinced that Click Frenzy will deliver bargains to many people. Here are three reasons why.
Picture by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images
1. Heavily-hyped sales invariably crash sites
Some reports suggest Click Frenzy is aiming for a million or more visitors. That's an ambitious target, but even if the site achieves just 10 per cent of that, there's bound to be a lot of time-outs and frustrated consumers. The blog for OzBargain (one of Lifeacker's favourite resources for tracking bargains) makes this point very well:
Over here we regularly see e-Commerce sites getting ozbargained with just thousands of clicks. Worse if you get featured on mass media like ACA and TT.
As OzBargain points out, if Google couldn't manage to keep up a site for the Nexus 4 ordering frenzy, what hope does anyone else has?
The Click Frenzy itself argues this won't be a concern: "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." We'll see.
2. Buying in a hurry is not buying intelligently
In the US, Black Friday catalogues are published weeks in advance, so shoppers queuing up on Thanksgiving evening or Black Friday morning know what they're aiming for. So far, we haven't been given many details of what will be on offer for Click Frenzy. A few details might emerge on the day, but for most people, the first they'll know will be at 7pm.
This creates a dangerous shopping situation: alleged bargains in a high-pressure situation. That doesn't make for good buying. If you spot an item in the Click Frenzy catalogue, you need to take time to assess the pricing. If the site claims a percentage off RRP, do some research to check if anyone ever actually sells at full price. Make sure you factor in postage charges. Don't succumb to the pressure of thinking "the site is finally working, I should buy while I have the chance".
3. We don't know how much each retailer will be offering
The Click Frenzy site boasts of the participation of big name retailers, highlighting Myer, Dick Smith, Dan Murphy's and Target amongst others. But we don't know whether their participation will be store-wide, a single product, or a range of junk no-one in their right mind would buy at any price.
To cite one example: Big Pond Music will be selling any album in its download catalogue at 50 per cent off list price, which is actually a ridiculously good deal. The other deal Telstra will be promoting (via its Big Pond Shopping site) is "50 per cent off selected bed linen", which isn't meaningful until we see the linen on offer.
None of that means you shouldn't check out the site when it launches -- you might get lucky and score a bargain on something that is actually worth purchasing. But don't count on it.