AskTog: Top 10 Reasons to Not Shop On Line contains enough truth that it should make anyone designing an e-commerce system sit up and take notice.
I shop a lot online — I hate malls, and I like the convenience — and I've had about all of the experiences Tog complains about at one time or another. I've also had enough good experiences to make me think all is not hopeless.
I’ve had enough bad experiences at malls that shopping online seems vastly superior. The whole “not enough information” problem with websites–yeah. Try talking to actual human beings. They’ll have information. In fact, they’ll just lie to you. Usually it looks like this:
Me: I’m trying to figure out if this is a software modem or not.
Them: Oh, that modem comes with software.
Me: No, I want to know whether it’s one of those winmodems where all the modulation/demodulation is done by the computer’s central processing unit, not an on-board chip.
Me: Is the processing done by hardware on the chip or software that you install?
Them: All modems are hardware.
Me: That’s not what I mean. A while back someone came up with the idea of making modems cheap by removing a chip that does processing work. Good modems, the kind that work under Linux, have that chip. Does this modem have that chip?
Them: Oh, I get it now. All modems nowadays have that chip. It’s standard. You don’t have to worry about that.
Me: No it’s not. This one doesn’t, and this one doesn’t, and this box doesn’t say which is why I’m asking you.
Them: You know what… I think you’ll have to talk to your ISP because that’s something that will depend on whether you use AOL or not.
Me: Do you have internet access here? I’ll just look it up myself, okay?
His logic for shopping B&M stores and not going e-commerce leaves something to be desired, IMO. To point out the short-comings of a few websites does not negate the enjoyment that can be found shopping on-line. Slow? That’s why broadband was invented. I can shop 10 stores in the time it would take me to just get dressed and hit the door. Information? There’s an abundance of information, including specifications and reviews, to be found on the web. I can either research a product on my own or rely on the word of some pimply-faced sales person (either making minimum wage or working on commission) in the store. I’ll take the former, thank you. He does make a point about the little green ads you’ll find when running a search, though – I’ll give him that much. However, shopping on-line, for me, isn’t any different than going to a B&M. If I know I want to buy a printer, I don’t get in my car and search the city for printers – I go to the store that I know carries printers. Shopping on-line isn’t any different. If you want a printer, just plug in “office max” or your favorite store and visit the site. 3 simple letters will prevent the unwanted loss of data should you take a power hit while surfing – U P S. Shopping on-line may not be a perfect system, but it beats having to fight traffic and crowded malls, only to find out the product I’m looking for is currently sold out.
Even with broadband, some e-commerce sites are excruciatingly slow. The worst was the Publix Direct site. It took as long to shop online as it did to go through the store. I think they wrote it themselves in java or something. Every time you added an item to your shopping basket, you had time to take a catnap. Not surprisingly, they had to abandon the whole thing….
I, too, was disappointed with the Publix Direct site. Not only was it slow, they didn’t deliver to my area (even though I’m about 1/2 a mile from one, and 3/4 from another)! The delivery areas weren’t large enough and the site was slow, indeed. I definitely would have expected better from Publix.