Australian retailers plan huge online sale to accompany Cyber Monday

You may have heard of the American post-Thanksgiving sales trend, “Cyber Monday“. But you probably haven’t heard that a large group of Australian retailers are now taking part.

Myer, Target and online retailer The Iconic are just a few of the names participating in Click Frenzy, a joint venture designed to accompany the newest American sales tradition of Cyber Monday – a day set aside by retailers to promote online-only deals.

It comes during a tumultuous time for retail – the industry is beating on the RBA for not cutting interest rates this month, and thousands of jobs have been lost this year.

While Black Friday is usually the biggest day of the retail calendar in the United States, Cyber Monday is carving out its own niche – last year the day generated $US1.2 billion in sales.

Grant Arnott, co-founder of Click Frenzy, says it’s important for Australian retailers to take advantage of the opportunity to get sales before Christmas.

“The retail community has been supportive of the idea and they’ve been very keen to explore what we’re doing.”

Of course, it comes at a time when many retailers are trying to avoid the dreaded discount cycle. Plenty of retailers have suffered over the past couple of years through extended discounting, leading to collapses and poor financial results.

Some retailers are showing signs of recovery from that cycle – another discounting day may get in the way of that recovery strategy.

Myer, Target, Westfield, Dick Smith, Jeanswest, Bras N Things, The Iconic and StyleTread are some of the retailers involved in this year’s sale, which will last 24 hours starting on Tuesday night.

The campaign is in part a defensive move. With many American websites offering cheap shipping rates to Australia, local shoppers take part in Cyber Monday like any other customer.

Given the debate over how much international stores are “stealing” local retail trade, local involvement in a sale like this is deemed necessary to convince Australian shoppers local stores are still relevant.

“The overwhelming majority of shoppers do shop from Australian retailers, and I certainly think that they can make a stand online and showcase their best offers so they don’t get swept away,” Arnott says.

Tony Nash, who runs online bookseller Booktopia, says his company’s involvement could be potentially lucrative, although he’ll have to wait and see how the first year performs.

“This has all the right ingredients. We understand what the cost is to us, and we’ll just have to see,” he told SmartCompany.

“It’s a good idea to showcase online retailing, and a way of getting in there to show what people can buy locally.”

Nash says the potential revenue for retailers across the entire day could be in the tens of millions. Arnott says given the first year, the take may be modest, but it’ll give online retailers the opportunity to show just how they’re improving their digital storefronts.

Companies such as Myer have been investing millions in their digital strategies.

“We know retailers have gotten behind the idea, and there’s a reluctance sometimes to take part in the regular daily deal type scenarios. This is more akin to the Boxing Day-style environment.”

“They’re keen to explore this, and we certainly have a critical mass. We’re pleased with where we are for a first year event.”

Cyber Monday started in 2005 after retailers noticed a spike in traffic after Black Friday sales.

Keep up to date with retail news and views with regular SmartCompany bloggers Brian Walker, Kevin Moore and John Winning.



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