Online retailer Millennius’ first publicity stunt is pathetic

Comment by Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: The spoilsport, attention seeking tactics of this new wave of online retailers is cringeworthy, unedifying and obfuscating. Instead of hurling barbs from the sidelines, online retailers should work to add value to a category, in order to create sustainable and profitable businesses for all involved.

Whereas we were only previously treated to Ruslan Kogan’s excoriating attacks on Clive Peeters, Harvey Norman and Harvey Norman’s purchase of Clive Peeters, a new attention seeker has today entered the fray. Called Millennius, and run by CEO Pierre Boutros, this new self-branded pure player has sunk to lowest low possible: being unoriginal.

Instead of developing a product that can be sold at a premium to the betterment of manufacturers, retailers and consumers, like industry innovators such as Apple and Dyson, Millennius has thrown a wad of cash at a PR company, with its first release today being a brainless attack at David Jones’ new online store.

As reported earlier today on Current.com.au, DJs’ new store is selling a wide cross section of its products online, with the technology and small appliance products being marketed at the RRP. This makes sense, as David Jones typically attracts an affluent consumer, one who is prepared to pay more for a trusted brand. Millennius on the other hand, is not a trusted brand. How can it be, when no-one had heard of it before this latest pathetic attempt to start a pointless argument?

In its first press release – or at least the first Current.com.au has received – Boutros does not waste time sharpening his cheap, cheap knives: “DAVID JONES ONLINE STORE MISSES THE POINT – IT’S NOT CHEAPER” screams the subject of the email. In an included prepared quotation (which is meant to be used to start a war of words with David Jones), Boutros says, “…online shoppers are actually looking for the best deal, regardless of what you are selling, so if the prices are identical to what you’d find in store, where’s the real benefit to customers?”

The real benefit is that online consumers don’t have to buy their products from you, Mr Boutros, they can buy them from the store that is famous for being like no other – a store that has been around for over 170 years.

Taking on a fulltime PR company typically costs around $10,000 per month. We asked for the terms of this arrangement but were told those details were commercial in confidence. Regardless of how much is actually being spent, it’s definitely a waste of money. At the very least, Boutros could spend that cash updating his website, which looks distinctly average, even by Current.com.au’s own pre-millennium standards.

So can we expect more attacks of this ilk from Boutrous? Unfortunately, ‘yes’ is the most likely answer. Kogan has proven that it is an effective way of getting publicity – and cheap publicity at that. At least Kogan has the advantage of being an amusing character. This attempt at replication from Boutrous is nothing more than boring.

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