Dick Smith's new owner's marketing tactics are killing me

  • Opinion
  • May 18, 2016
  • Roanne Parker
Dick Smith's new owner's marketing tactics are killing me

When it was announced that the Dick Smith chain would close with a deficit of $100 million and nearly 3000 lost jobs (including 430 in New Zealand) its founder, Dick Smith said he was gutted. "I'm very proud that a business I started with $610 has lasted for 48 years and employed thousands of people," he said. "I'm angry that these greedy bankers have destroyed a business."

Soon after we heard that Kogan, Australia's largest online department store, would buy the IP assets of the company - namely its brand and the databases built up in various ways over those 48 years.

It's hard to guesstimate, but I'm going to take a stab that there were 150,000+ New Zealanders on that database. 

When Kogan took over last month, he said he would invest to rebuild consumer trust and make Dick Smith's online offer "better than ever."

What has happened is that he is not only destroying any brand equity that he's just paid for, he's incinerating the latent revenue and future brand value that lurks in the database he's bought, and the thing that kills me the most is that the opportunity cost is huge. 

Background: The receivers sent an email mid-March offering to get subscribers off the hook by unsubscribing before Kogan (or 'the new owner') took over the data assets - some people probably did, the majority would not have.

First: What could have happened. I can hand-on-heart swear that you could have built a re-engagement communications plan with an aligned content strategy, gentle tone, and good manners that would have unlocked the forlorn hearts of Dick Smith's Kiwi database and unlocked their wallets too, pouring cash into the coffers of Kogan and his suppliers.

But, what has happened? Kogan has sent a series of emails since the first week in May that have been an example of worst practice digital marketing. 

Nice to meet you, Kogan! The first email was the one in the header image above - screaming free shipping. No introduction, welcome, explanation of what was happening, nor was there any setting of expectation as to frequency of the emails, value contained here-in or on its way, no loyalty incentive, and also no options to choose to opt-down how many emails I get or to opt-in for particular content categories. No reassurance, reviews, testimonials or credentials from Kogan to build trust with me. 

The emails are also 100 percent untargeted and there's no dynamic content inserted for New Zealand. The most simple of email marketing software e.g. Mailchimp, can swap out content blocks based on data fields, so if Roanne is in New Zealand, then the intro, pricing and products can show New Zealand content. Rather, all references are to Australia. For example: Australian time zone, Australian currency, Australian shipping offers, Australian phone contracts and mobile carriers, Australian brand promotions (What's a Kogan blender?) this thing is so Australian I swear when I read it I can hear an Australian spruiker shouting at me from a shop doorway.  Strewth! Look at this for a phone deal! 

I'm still going: look at the Australian URL in the header '' and see below the Australian contact address in the footer, along with a subscribe statement that says I'm getting this email because I am on the Dick Smith Australia database. Ugh. No I'm not, and I'm hating you right now.

After searching the website for 30 minutes, I can say that the Dick Smith website doesn't contain even one sentence regarding New Zealand shipping options, T&Cs or any mention of New Zealand shipping at all. 

I've had an email every second day since May, I've tried to hang in there to see them catch on and get better. 

No. They have all shouted at me with a strong 'strayn' twang. Instead, they have shouted 'P*** off Kiwi, there's nothing for you here.' Look! A Kogan notebook. What is a Kogan notebook?

What a waste of years, money, brand, acquisition campaigns, thoughtful customer service, the huge effort it took for generations of DS's New Zealand staff to tempt, cajole, buy, promote, earn those names on their database. Not to mention the business' growth journey with the actual Dick Smith. 

Kogan, I can't see any sign that you are not a pack of idiots. Clearly you are not, or you would not be Australia's biggest online department store. But right now, this feels like it calls for the CRM version of abuse intervention. Kogan! Give me that database cobber, you don't deserve it. 

P.S. I like Australian people. I lived in Melbourne for 10 years, I love it, I miss it and I don't even mind the odd spruiker  for old times sake. But I am not there now, nor was I when I joined the Dick Smith database. I have no clue who Kogan is, and I really am very sad about what they are doing to Dick Smith's customers. 

Roanne is a digital growth expert and recognised leading entrepreneur and investor. She has worked on email marketing for EziBuy, Farmers, The Warehouse Mitre 10, and many more. This post was republished from her LinkedIn.

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.


Military-style semi-automatics ban announced

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • The Register team
Military-style semi-automatics ban announced

As of 3pm on March 21, a wide range of semi-automatic weapons have been reclassified under section 74A(c) of the Arms Act as requiring an E endorsement on a firearms license. This means they can no longer be sold to those with A-category gun licenses, and their purchase now requires police approval.

Read more

Retailers gather for insights at NZ Retail and The Register's breakfast

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • The Register
Retailers gather for insights at NZ Retail and The Register's breakfast

NZ Retail and The Register’s sales and marketing breakfast saw dozens of Kiwi retailers come together to network, sharing tips and tricks and absorbing expert advice.

Read more

Who stole Christmas?

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • Kelly Withers
Who stole Christmas?

Results are starting to trickle in from Christmas 2018/2019, and for many retailers, they're a little disappointing. Paydar chief executive and co-founder Kelly Withers explores the data.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...

Chinese businesspeople raise millions for Christchurch victims

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Chinese businesspeople raise millions for Christchurch victims

A group of visiting Chinese businesspeople have raised $2.35 million for victims of the Christchurch mass shooting.

Read more

The Retail NZ Awards: What does it take to be a winning retailer?

Take this time to shine with the upcoming Retail NZ awards, a chance to show the retail industry what makes your business stand out. No ...


Hunting & Fishing New Zealand voluntarily pulls military-style assault weapons from sale

  • News
  • March 20, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Hunting & Fishing New Zealand voluntarily pulls military-style assault weapons from sale

In the wake of the attack on Christchurch’s Muslim community on March 15, strong calls for changes to New Zealand’s gun last have been made. Trade Me was the first retailer to act, halting the sale of all semi-automatic weapons on its platform, and it has now been joined by Hunting & Fishing New Zealand.

Read more
Next page
Results for
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

The Register

Content marketing/advertising? Email or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit