Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why is advice so hard to take?

Consultant Martin Newman has just published a blog post of top tips for selling more over the Christmas period. All his advice is sound and I recommend that anyone in charge of a retail website should read his blog post.

The interesting question is why aren’t merchants already doing all the things suggested? Selling online has been going on for 15 years now and yet many merchants persist in following bad practices indentified many years ago. I suppose I shouldn’t complain – both Martin and I make our livings helping merchants improve their sites and that’s easier if the sites have obvious failings – but it seems odd that so many ecommerce web sites are still, frankly, not very good.

It can’t be just money, though clearly it often is. Tesco aren’t short of cash yet their site doesn’t follow many of Martin’s tips. We’ve had clients at Digivate who’ve refused to make changes we’ve suggested despite clear evidence that the investment would be recouped in months.

Perhaps people just fear change. Perhaps people feel that they already have enough to worry about and so decide to leave a ‘good enough’ website alone.

What do you think?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Home Delivery Network fail again

Last week I was stunned into silence (if you know me you’ll know how rare this is) by a second utterly failed delivery by HDN. They left my parcel – without asking me in advance or telling me afterwards – in the care of a neighbour. And I don’t mean next door, I mean someone I don’t know who lives half a mile away. (In my part of the country that counts as a neighbour as there are only four houses between us.) To make it even more extraordinary, my house was occupied all day and I had given my mobile number to the merchant. So as far as I’m concerned HDN have no excuses.

This wasn’t an innocent error. HDN rang my neighbour to arrange delivery of a parcel to her. When the driver arrived he said that he had a second parcel – mine – and would she mind if he left it with her. Despite being new to the area and not knowing me, she felt she wasn’t able to say no. No one contacted me about this unexpected plan. My neighbour didn’t know me or where my house is – our village has no street names or house numbers. HDN evidently feels that a promise to deliver a parcel is kept if the parcel ends up somewhere in the vague neighbourhood of the delivery address. Why bother with the correct address or telling the addressee what you’ve done? Sooner or later they’ll realise that something is wrong and chase it up.

A day after I expected the parcel to arrive I rang HDN to chase my parcel; the agent had no idea why it hadn’t been delivered to me but he did give me the name and address where it had been delivered, and a lame apology. Now at that time I did not know my neighbour, but I did know that she had only moved in a few weeks ago so wouldn’t be listed in the telephone book. Luckily I did know the estate agent that had dealt with the let and because they knew me I was able to get my neighbour’s mobile number, saving me the time of driving round with a note. The bad news was that she had taken the parcel with her to work (why?) and her shift ended at 10pm. As luck would have it, I’d driven past her workplace earlier that day in blissful ignorance that my parcel lurked in the car park.

In the end my neighbour – looking rather put-upon – delivered the parcel the following morning, which was just as well because I left the house that afternoon for a five-day trip. And I was relying on taking with me some of the items in the parcel.

So HDN have now failed two deliveries in a row and are henceforth to be known as NDN or Non-Delivery Network. And I will be wary of buying from any merchant that uses them!