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Avoiding Wired Mistakes

by June Campbell

You can't do anything on the Internet that you can't do in real life, but the Net lets you do it faster and in view of global audiences. When you're doing somewhat great, that's good. When you're making a gigantic mistake, it's less good. From a consumer's perspective, here's some suggestions that would help induce me to reach for my credit card.

Guideline #1: Your Web site should compliment your real-life business.

As an example, I offer you the story of the florist shop with the beautiful Web site. It was a couple of days before Christmas and I had left my shopping till the last minute. An Internet search revealed a florist shop situated in my friend's home community. The Web site was excellent. Fast download, well laid out, easily navigated. Their floral designs were pictured on the site, identified by code numbers and with pricing information clearly visible. Obviously, it was the work of a professional designer and obviously it was not done on the cheap. I was impressed. I copied the phone number and dialed up to place my order. Then things got sticky. The salesperson didn't know there was a Web site, had no idea what floral arrangement I was trying to order, or at what price. If you're going to the trouble of being on the Web, be sure that your sales personnel are giving a consistent message.

Guideline #2: Answer Your E-mail.

If you are going to make your email address available to your customers, make sure that somebody answers the e-mail that you receive, and make sure that the person who does this is knowledgeable and able to communicate through that medium. Nothing will tick your customers off faster than sending an email that is ignored. And please note: the webmaster or the programmer in your organization is not usually the best person to be handling your marketing material or fielding questions about your product. You've gone to a lot of trouble to attract potential customers. Try not to annoy them too much through ineffective email practices.

Guideline #3: The Price Is Not a Secret.

I'll be honest. This practice annoys me a lot, and it has me mystified. It's the peculiar online sales tactic of making the customer work really hard to discover what something costs. You go to a Web site or you receive a piece of email promoting a particular product or service. However, no pricing information is available. It may not even be readily apparent that the item is for sale. You click your way through a big Web site, finally to locate pricing information in tiny print in an obscure corner. Sometimes there's just an invitation to phone them or to send an email for more information. I dunno#It seems to me the customer should not have to work really hard to buy something. However, I'm open to hearing opposing viewpoints. If someone out there knows of a good reason why it's best to avoid mentioning money when conducting e-commerce, I'd be pleased to hear what it is.

Guideline #4: Forget the Jargon.

I received a press release that went like this: "Our remarkable new solution that promotes integrated data management of media content that will realize better return on investment (ROI), and that, in fact GISTICS has evaluated potential ROI to be as high as 16:1. (GISTICS, 1997) with general benefits #." Nuff said. If anyone understands what the devil they're selling, let me know.

June Campbell is a professional writer whose work has appeared in a variety of international print publications. She also provides business writing services as well as offering online sales of "How-to Booklets and Templates for Business" from her Web site. (http://www.nightcats.com).

Tags: E-commerce and Internet



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