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Wishlist for vendor 2001 NY's resolutions.

Old 01-09-01, 01:04 PM
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Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 3,337
Below are my wishes (in order of importance) as to what I'd like to see ecommerce vendors collectively do in this critical shakeout year 2001 to keep internet ecommerce alive and thriving into the foreseeable future.

Others feel free to chime in as well.

Vendors are you listening?

1. Web Site Accuracy - Have your website be *accurate* with regards to availability, format, etc. so that it accurately reflects what I'm ordering, additional charges (shipping and taxes), and when I can expect to get it.

This has been the *WORST* problem I've experienced of late from *ALL* vendors lately (large or small).

Online order tracking is a *must*.

2. Security - Keep our credit cards secure! This has also been aggravating in that many of us have had to go through multiple card cancellations and hassles reinstating orders, etc. when this isn't done effectively. It's like having a well armored, alarmed, and bricked front of the bank where tellers sit, but we can't see the shack behind it with a small wooden padlocked door that gets broken into and we're robbed blind. For ecommerce to survive this *has* to be solved and efforts made to help customers feel more secure in their purchases.

3. CSR availability - Have a customer service phone number *and* email address prominently available for customers to get resolution on problems, etc. and have it available during useful hours for customers.

This is mostly an issue for smaller vendors (i.e. Film Empire which has no good way of getting ahold of it, and older firms such as the notorious DVD-Wave). Buy.com has gotten significantly better with this.

This might be costly, but if items 1 and 2 were largely solved, then that would also help keep costs down for this. Also as a part of this really streamline the returns process and don't put so much burden on the customer to pay for postage, etc. and expect to get recompensed later.

4. Keep prices cheaper than B&M - Keep prices down so that along with coupons, one can still expect to get a discount over what one would get in stores (including taxes and shipping costs). If product is more expensive and not readily available, then going through the internet provides the consumer with *no* advantage.

5. Keep your costs lower to survive - Though some like companies to go *overboard* on steep discounts, coupons, giveaways to get brand recognition, I'd prefer that they solve other issues above than do this and keep themselves in business. The more businesses that survive the shakeout, the better it is for everyone to keep healthy competition in the long run.

Also, avoid promotions that are so complex and confusing, that it doesn't really provide much incentive for users unless they work hard at it, since your expenses for CSR reps will probably also be a lot higher since they'll have to work harder too.

6. Site Navigation, searching - Improve search engine power, navigation on web sites - This isn't a big beef, but if the sites could be made more powerful (search by price, discount off of MSRP, etc.) and then throw well-targeted links on pages where desired content is based on previous interactions, etc. (Amazon is doing well in this department), this will help both the users looking for something quickly, and also help users that want to get drawn into a rewarding site-browsing experience that will get you more business.

7. Be upfront about user's privacy - In this day and age on the internet, it's understandable that web sites have to tread a fine line to gain more revenue from personal information on its customers and protection customer's privacy. Many need this added revenue to survive. However, I think that web site's position will be helped *a lot* more if they were completely upfront and honest about how their personal information is being used in very accessable links to privacy policy pages, etc. so that a concerned user knows how much he's giving up to take advantage of certain promotions, etc. This also includes protecting users' email addresses from getting in the hands of spammers, or at least telling us if it could be.

8. Clean up the rebate affiliations - Brandsforless, ********, and others have all offered rebates in conjunction with various sites, but the confusion surrounding policies, and the necessary time a consumer has to spend to follow up to make sure these get fulfilled makes them less than useful now. These rebate offers need to find a way to be profitable, balance concerns with item 7, and be beneficial and simple to customers, or they should be replaced with other forms of inducement for customers. This model is not sustainable past the "brand recognition" stage.

9. Work WITH B&M stores - Find ways of working with affiliated B&M stores more in the coming years to help survive the shakeout. Being able to process returns at B&M's, have cross promotions, order online and pick up in stores, etc. There might be a lot of ways to creatively enhance the users' experiences through partnership with B&M stores rather than directly competing with them. You might also be able to leverage the costs for problems mentioned above (CSR, etc.) by working more closely with B&M stores.

10. Help users obtain hard to find items - Help streamline distribution of hard-to-get items such as Anime and pay close attention to accuracy of availability, etc. If this can be made very streamlined, etc. I think it would provide a huge increase in customer demand for some things that are hard to get. Things like Playstation 2's, etc. are being handled with creative ways (email notification, etc.), that make the internet more preferred if done right.

That's all I can think of for now. Feel free to add to the list. Item #1 is by far the biggest item for me now and is becoming a big hassle I wish they would all prioritize in fixing.


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- DVDealer


[This message has been edited by DVDealer (edited January 09, 2001).]
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