Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Outnet Outburst!

What do you do when your PR stunt or marketing campaign badly backfires? I am of course talking about the 1st Birthday campaign for NET-A-PORTER.COM's sister website This site boasts a "Chic discount shopping experience."

'Chic' was definitely not how I would describe Friday's £1 Birthday sale. This was an invite only meant to be exclusive affair which inevitably was about data capture and expanding mailing lists. Having registered two weeks ago after reading about the event on twitter, I was sent an email to tell me I was "on the list!" How very important I felt. Little old me being invited along to this special event. The campaign was going well so far. I even read up on how to shop smart and increase my chances of being able to snap myself up a lovely designer bargain for just £1. I registered all my address details before hand and prepared as they could notify me at any time on Friday when the sale was live.

Sure enough, at around 7.10am as i was clambering around trying to get dressed for work I got an email and jumped straight online. After about 10 minutes of the website crashing I finally got through me email invite onto the site. But, what now. Having seen the email it did say "Everything in the sale £1!" But where was the sale? No sign,

This was where I started to get frustrated. I clicked around trying to find £1 items. Nothing. The site continued to crash. Now, it may just be me but I would think that if you were having an invite-only sale you could easily anticipate the maximum number of people who could be on your site at one time? The site continued to crash.

Thinking that I must have been mistaken and that something MUST be £1 I tried to put something in my basket and see if the price changed when I went to pay. This alone took an hour. I then phoned the helpline. Only to be told that nobody would be answering the phone today but not to forget that only items marked as £1 were in fact £1. I still hadn't seen a single one of these amazing £1 items. I continued on this until 10am. The time I had allowed before I decided to give up. Then I went on Twitter only to be told the sale had ended. It seems I wasn't the only person to have problems in my quest for the perfect discount designer item.

One angry tweeter said "it was like being invited to a party and then getting a slap in the face when you arrived!"
While others were saying that they would never shop with theOutnet again. This surely wasn't the VIP shopping experience Outnet had hoped for?

Outnet director Stephanie Phair sent out this message (taken from

Hello everyone, I am Stephanie, Director of theOutnet. I wanted to personally say that we have been listening to all your comments. First and most importantly, I want to say sorry for the frustrating experience that many of you had. You have shown incredible interest in our site today and we do not take that lightly. Clearly, while we were prepared for the volume of traffic the sale would deliver, in some markets, the UK mainly, we were overwhelmed by the speed at which you came to the site this morning. This remarkable volume—up to 9 orders a second—led the site to crash for many of you, and I want to say that we are very sorry to all those who didn’t get to buy anything at the sale, but delighted for the thousands of lucky ones amongst you that did walk away with a £1/$1 bargain from theOutnet. We want to thank all of you for being part of our first year celebrations. With each event we are working hard to fix issues that arise, and want to say that we fully intend to offer you further bargain shopping opportunities in the future. Thank you again, Stephanie.

I guess it always was too good to be true and although it hasn't put me off shopping at The Outnet for good, I will think twice before getting involved in one of these events again.

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