They say never to kick someone when he’s down. But there are exceptions to every rule. So, even though Egghead.com is down, way down — all the way down, in fact, it deserves a good swift kick in the yolk.
Egghead is no more. It shut down on October 25th, breaking its own promise to stay in operation despite having filed for bankruptcy. The hapless software and electronics e-tailer is gone.
And yet, there remains the Egghead.com Web site, still churning away on the Net, ready for anything. Well, almost anything. Anything but business.
Why has Egghead perpetuated this shell of a site? My guess is, they want to retain some amount of visitors, for very calculated reasons. In other words: We can’t serve your needs anymore — but you can serve ours.
For its part, Egghead says its site is still up for informational purposes. The site attempts to answer some frequently asked questions — “Who can I contact?” and the like.
The answer to the contact question can be roughly translated as: Go ahead and send us an e-mail, but don’t hold your breath waiting for a reply.
But why is the rest of Egghead’s site still intact? You can click through the entire catalog and get product details. In fact, you can do everything on the site but put items in your shopping cart and buy them.
Why provide the online equivalent of tickets to the first three quarters of a basketball game?
They Want You
The answer is you, the Egghead customer. More specifically, your name.
Analysts have said that Egghead’s customer database was probably the main bait that lured suitors, such as Fry’s Electronics, into bidding for and ultimately buying the company’s assets in the first place — at least before Fry’s hesitated on closing when it found Egghead was not able to meet certain conditions of the deal.
The customer list is a unique asset and a potentially valuable one — and it will be more unique and more valuable if it isn’t dated.In other words, if you’re an Egghead customer from 1999 who hasn’t been back, that’s not worth as much as if you’d visited the site last week, if only to read the Egghead obituary for yourself.
Farm Fresh Leads
Fry’s, or any other potential buyer of the Egghead assets, wants fresh leads, not some guy who bought Windows 95 three years ago. They want people hungry for the latest in software, gadget-buyers and techno-geeks.
A population of those people, by many accounts, loved Egghead. Maybe they remembered the real-world store that Egghead started its life as. Maybe they remember the thrill of seeing all that boxed software stacked from floor to ceiling.
Whatever the reason, they’re what gave Egghead the value it had. And now, Egghead is trying to hold onto them, to keep them from getting too far away. It’s trying to make sure its list doesn’t get too stale.
Recipe for Failure
But it’s a lousy ploy. To keep the site up and running is to pretend that the end isn’t inevitable.
Fry’s was reportedly willing to pay $10 million for Egghead. They backed out after Egghead couldn’t deliver. How exactly it fell short is not entirely clear. Maybe it was sales or some other more esoteric metric. But now it’s practically unthinkable that anyone would want to buy Egghead whole.
Egghead will soon be hard-boiled and shredded. Egghead salad. And even the most loyal Eggheads have to admit they don’t want any part of it.
Note: The opinions expressed by our columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the E-Commerce Times or its management.