Business, Technology

Australia’s ongoing online retail fiasco

The continuing inability of Myer and David Jones to deliver customers a decent online brand experience disqualifies them from complaining about digital competitors eating their lunch, argues Tim Burrowes.

All credit to Myer. It’s not many retailers who can make a Boxing Day sale last for three weeks.

But thanks to comments from unhappy customers on the company’s Facebook page, it is possible to monitor in real time the continuing erosion of brand value.

I must declare an interest here. I am myself an amused and bemused consumer of that online experience. Not that Myer’s main rival David Jones has done much better, but more on that later.

Being something of a misanthrope when it comes to bricks and mortar retail sales, I actually decided to give the stores’ online sales a shot.

As it will have been hard to miss, Myer’s site crashed within hours of its Christmas night launch and remained offline for the next eight days.

In a world where Google being down for eight seconds would be remarked upon, Australia’s biggest retail brand was down for eight days.

But most curious was how unconcerned Myer boss Bernie Brookes seemed.

The nice folk at partner IBM were hard at work fixing it, he told the market.

And online was, he reassured his investors, only responsible for about one per cent of the company’s revenues. Which doesn’t sound too bad until you wonder whether the fact that it’s only at one per cent is because the store hasn’t been doing enough to catch up with its competitors.

Still, when the Myer site came back, and lured by the offer of free delivery, I gave it a shot — via

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