16 December 2000
Simon Gronlund is earning his Master of Science in Computer Science at the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, as an adult student. He also teaches Java and computer-related courses at the college. When he isn't tampering with his Warp 4 PC, he spends his spare time with his two boys and his wife.
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Reflections from Sweden
Last months the dot com death has touched
Sweden and Europe as a plague. The stock holders happy last spring now tear one's
hair in feelings of frustration. Millionaires quickly became holders of ueless stock
options. The digitized Black Death shows its evil face. Why?
"Ahem, what errors these customer cause me, how stupid they seem to be, always causing me the very same errors over and over again.
And why does the rest but a small
rill disappear at the log-out and pay page? Everything is set up plainly, give me
the credit card number and I will withdraw the sum from their account. I do not
get it, I have even removed the figures on tax and charges added since that looked
too messy. Charges are the same as mail order, go read a catalogue if necessary.
Further, I have not added a lot of
boring text and information about our policies and stuff that no-one likes to read
anyway. Most customers realize that our low cost items admit no refunds or warranties.
And a child can understand that we can not guarantee delivery within a few days
or so, we first have to find the item at the promised prize somewhere. Or at least
at a nearby prize. Or a close to similar product.
I really try, I track the customers
and try hard to get their e-mail addresses, using log-in's, memberships and stuff.
Then I send these visitors nice letters every soon and then to remind them going
back. I do not understand, some responds unpleasantly though I only want them to
realize that I, too, have to make my earning somehow."
Okay, that is true, quite a few Internet
shops do not fit into this description. But amazingly many sites do not survive
a closer inspection, especially if it is made by an expert on interface and interaction.
Stupid mistakes are made; navigation helpers, information and user friendly after
thoughts are simply not there. The sites seem to be built without a single thought
on customers, except as the paying crowd.
Other mistakes match exactly those
ones discussed in the recent Hands on HTML articles; many images of huge file sizes,
layout that do not respect different screen sizes, fonts hardly seen even using
a magnifying glass, etc. Then it must be the software developers!?!
Not for sure, software developer's
work do not show, but web designers do. If, and only if, the bureau has that distinction
What am I to say? I would like to
see the Internet marketeers grow mature and sound quickly. Internet can and should
be the ultimate market place, but then we must offer be offered mature services
Sweden, as other countries, see a
few music resellers--CD, DVD and cassettes--that hardly make both ends meet, except
for example Ginza, a firm that have been in the business for decades on mail order.
I suppose they know how to run the logistics from years of training, they have both
the customer relations and the suppliers relations working, and--important--thay
have the stock and can deliver timely.
If you are to go on-line with your
business, first think of the customers. These can be your neighbour, your mom-and-dad,
your cousin's little kids, or anyone computer illiterate. Will they find you? Will
they find their way within your site? Will they find their way out? What options
do you offer? What services make you better than mail order? How reliably are you
and how do you prove that?
Go on-line! That can be your way
to successful business. But remember, business is and will remain a win/win affair
between you and your friend, the shopper.
Now I will send another e-mail and
see if the other firm offers me another raise, and I hope they do not offer me stock