Some companies really need to rethink how they do business!

Posted on June 4, 2014 in Εxperiences

Transition between applications, operating systems, payment solutions or anything else that will change the way you are used to doing certain stuff can be really difficult. I get that! Not everyone likes changes and everyone is dealing with them differently. But when it comes to companies, I believe that they have to be ready for everything that changes around them. So here’s a small story about a Greek company that blew me away with the way they are still doing business these days.

It’s not necessary to have names here so pick a product that works for your imagination and I’m sure you’ll get the picture. For the sake of this post, I am going to pretend that my bathroom tap broke and I need to replace a small part of it. Unfortunately there is only one reseller for that specific brand, they are located in Athens while I am in Rhodes. But it turns out they have a website!

I feel sad when I say that, but in Greece the majority of middle sized companies still consider websites a nice-to-have feature for their business card. Not only they fail to understand the real purpose of a website but they underestimate how much they are losing with this mentality. I was thrilled when I discovered that the company behind my product had a website. Ok, the design was from the 90s, certain elements were in Flash… but nevermind. I just wanted to find one item, order it and never go back to that website.

But wait… that’s not an eShop. It’s only a catalog of products. Where every product has it’s own URL, it’s own image(s), description and specifications. So in other words, someone took all the time in the world to add more than 200 products in full details, but someone else was cheap enough to not spare a few more extra Euros and add a shopping cart functionality to the website.

A few minutes later I found what I was looking for, but without an “add to cart” button, the only thing I could do was to give them a call and see how I could place an order. Here’s another interesting thing: the phone number usually goes at the footer along with a mailing address for the company. Better yet, some companies who value their website visitors, have their support phone number at the very top. Well this one didn’t have a phone number neither on the header or the footer. Hell, they didn’t even include it on any other section of their website. I had to get their name to the yellow pages and figure out where to call. We’re talking about UX at it’s best! It’s been almost an hour searching and even though I know exactly what I need to buy, I am still trying to find the way to do it.

So a very kind lady picks up the phone and I explain to her what I am looking for. I inform her that I found their company through their website and that I even know the product code (based on their website information) of the item I need. She promptly informs me of the price and that’s where my experience got even worse!

The product I needed to buy cost €20. So I ask them to send it via courier and since they don’t have an online payment option, I would pay for it upon delivery. Sadly, she informs me that that’s not how they do business!? In order for me to get that part I need to:

  • Go to the bank – a specific one (which is 15km away), not any bank – and deposit 20€
  • Send them via FAX, proof that I made the deposit (she said NO to emails!)
  • Then call a courier in Athens and ask them to go at their address to pickup the package
  • And of course pay the delivery charges upon arrival of the package, plus any additional fees for having the delivery guy go all the way to their premises

Like I said, I understand that changes may be a difficult thing to grasp and work arround it. At least for some. But a company that has over 40 employes and insists on working in a way that even my grandma can’t understand why, is just begging for another company to do what they can’t. The sad part is that even this, is part of the same excuse: economic crisis.

I am not going to over analyse this but a hosting plan for e-commerce starts at arround 60€ per year, an OpenCart theme costs less than 35€ and you can find plenty of people to do the setup for less than 30€. That’s 125€ for a full featured e-commerce solution that not only will bring your company to 2014 but will actually increase your revenue in ways you probably haven’t dreamed of!

At the end of the day, it’s up to the manager of each store to decide how he wants to do business, but you can’t expect your customers to support you by asking them to go back 10 years. People are already educated and used to making online purchases, though their smartphones!

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