THE event was supposed to show off Australia's online retail prowess and boost activity in the local retail sector, which has been haemorrhaging sales to overseas competitors for years.
But when Click Frenzy's virtual doors failed to open - for up to three hours - on Tuesday night, what it did was expose Australia's inherent weakness in online retailing and reinforce to many shoppers why they were better off taking their money elsewhere.
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Click Frenzy 2013 will be 'simply amazing'
While Click Frenzy director Grant Arnott admits the unprecedented consumer rush was too much for their systems to handle, he denies the event was a failure, saying with more preparation, next year's sale will be 'simply amazing'.
As the 24-hour sales event came to a close on Wednesday night, organiser Grant Arnott, the publisher of Power Retail - an industry resource for online retailers - insisted the experiment was not all bad.
Trying to put a positive spin on what even he admitted had been a ''difficult'' 24 hours, he said the fact that more than 1.55 million shoppers, or ''one in 20 Australians'', had participated in the country's first national online shopping event was an ''encouraging'' sign for the local industry.
He said he hoped to have figures on how much was spent by the end of the week.
''What this has indicated is that there is an enormous level of demand for online shopping in Australia,'' he said.
The Click Frenzy website was not the only site that failed in the opening hours of the sale. The websites of big-name retailers including Myer, Dick Smith and Toys 'R' Us were also inaccessible at various times throughout Tuesday night.
Analysis by Melbourne IT, which monitored the availability and response times of 153 participating retailer websites between 6pm and midnight, showed two-thirds experienced technical issues.
The consumer backlash was swift and harsh. It began on social media just minutes after the online crash, with would-be shoppers expressing frustration at not being able to access local retailers' websites when overseas stores could handle much heavier traffic loads.
One potential customer tweeted: ''#Clickfrenzy Long downtime and no real bargains… Xmas shopping on USA & Japanese sites now.''
And later, when the Click Frenzy website allowed shoppers to browse, frustration turned to disappointment at the lack of genuine offers.
''What's even more annoying about #clickfrenzy is when you finally get through to see the deals, most are just the standard 10% off crap,'' tweeted a shopper.
Before the event, the sale had been described as ''the Boxing Day sales on digital steroids'' with discounts of up to 90 per cent. But a comparison of international sites revealed similar or better deals could be found regularly on sites such as Amazon and ASOS.
For example, women's Levi's Classic Demi Curve jeans were offered at Myer, via Click Frenzy, for $70, down from $119.95.
ASOS was selling similar styles such as Demi Curve Ankle or Demi Curve Bootcut or Demi Curve High for $38.25, $72.25 and $96.90 respectively.
Despite the early technical meltdown and customer dissent, for the most part, feedback from retailers was more positive.
Retailers such as DealsDirect, Booktopia, Woolworths and Windsor Smith said consumers bypassed the Click Frenzy website when it went down and shopped at their online stores instead.
''We have had a phenomenal launch to Click Frenzy,'' the chief executive of Booktopia, Tony Nash, said. ''Our site performed perfectly and we had the biggest day in the history of the company.''
However, Kate Morris of online beauty products company Adore Beauty was less impressed.
''I'm really disappointed that the whole thing was such a disaster,'' she said. Retailers are believed to have paid $1500 for a basic listing and up to $30,000 for featured deals on its home page or for site-wide advertising.
with Glenda Kwek and Asher Moses
Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly compared the price of Myer’s Women's Levi's Classic Demi Curve jean with that of online retailer ASOS. In fact, the price given of the jeans on the ASOS site was for other styles such as Demi Curve Ankle, Demi Curve Bootcut and Demi Curve High.