Telecom closes Ferrit

, posted: 12-Jan-2009 12:58

That's that then: online shopping site Ferrit will close down. Last orders are at Wednesday this week, 5pm. Tech journos like myself have been taking bets on when Ferrit would close, but expected it to happen much sooner after Dr Paul Reynolds took over from Theresa Gattung at Telecom.

While Telecom should test unknown waters every now and then, it's fair to say that Ferrit shows how little Gattung and her execs understood the Internet - the very medium they were meant to supply the access technology for. Ferrit did everything wrong, starting with the .com variant of the domain name ending up with a domain squatter that put up a porn site on it to writing "consumer reviews" of products themselves. Online retailing depends on customer confidence, and you cannot undermine it like Ferrit did. The Internet remembers everything...

With that kind of track record, there was never any risk that Ferrit would catch up with Trade Me or become a local version of Amazon. Sure, they spent millions of dollars on ad campaigns (most them just plain annoying) but never provided anyone with an actual reason to go to Ferrit for their online shopping. All in all, the amount of money sunk into Ferrit is said to be over thirty million dollars... what did Telecom get for that though? A bag of bad publicity, mainly.

This snippet from the NZPA report on the demise of Ferrit is amusing:

"Journalists based across the road from the Ferrit offices in Auckland during the set up phase had a good view of the busy emerging new business. Ferrit staff's ability to play ball games while speaking on mobile phones was envied."

I used to work opposite Ferrit at Virginia Avenue East, at Fairfax Media. :)

Update Lance Wiggs has a good summary of blog and Twitter comment on Ferrit's closure. I quite agree with Lance that Ferrit should not close down. Lance has offered a dollar for it, and I'll chip in with another (as a journo, that's the extent of my venture capital fund). I'll do the community building and manage the geeky stuff, and Lance the business side - I'm pretty sure it'd work.

Update II Found this snippet from a Ferrit-watching friend...

"Trade Me overtook XtraMSN as the country's biggest website and TG spat the dummy, and wanted TradeMe rate-limited. Don't ask me why having a successful customer was bad, but it was.

Her lawyers said that might cause a few problems so she said "set up a competitor" and thus Ferrit was born.

Phase one - New products and services. Ferrit to be a shopping mall.
Phase two - Second hand goods/auctions.
Phase three - ????
Phase four - Ferrit defeats Trade Me."

The above was dug up I believe by Kate McLaughlin when she was at NBR, but I can't find the story on their website.

Update III The Herald reports Telecom has made 37 people at Ferrit redundant. :(

And here's a Ferriting podcast of yours truly, with Wammo on Radio Wammo. This time around, we used Skype Video which worked great. I could see Glenn and get vital visual clues for the conversation, and the audio quality is much better than over a phone. Radio 2.0!

My memory failed me during the interview, in which I said that I tried to buy some flowers on Ferrit. I did, but only to verify sbiddle's tip on finding that the prices on Ferrit were out of whack with the retailer. Got a great story out of that tip, for Computerworld. Sorry about that, Steve.

Other related posts:
Video: Kim Dotcom and Mathias Ortman at the IITP Mega breakfast
Two-factor authentication broken
The problem with naming and shaming

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