That’s what an associate said to me recently, when describing her recent online buying experience with the Australian bookseller. No Dymocks is not Amazon, they could be even better, if they wanted to.
I keep hearing that Australians don’t shop online much, and are afraid to commit to website purchases. I also notice how online sales are often excluded in many companies’ online strategies when updating their sites for the AU market. I have to disagree with both that strategy and that sentiment. Australians spend quite a bit of time online and would shop online, if they could find sites that DON’T make it harder than extracting teeth to do what others have proved is not too difficult to do.
I have to admit, having come from the UK where you can get anything online, including courier-delivered toast (I kid you not!) it was a bit of a shock. More so with the knowledge that the Australian government is generally good at supplying information and services online. So it’s not like online is a scary, new or tentative place for Aussies. I have a friend who buys all his music online as .wav, .aiff files, or other digital formats. Another friend buys her books from Amazon US because even with shipping and duty it is cheaper than local shops, and quicker too. Many other Australians are looking for ways to buy what they need quickly without having to drive or go down to the shops or malls.
Ok, in the UK, the market is larger with a smaller geographic area, but concern for market size and proximal advantages are questions for a business, not for doing business online. If your business idea cannot support a business plan, online or offline has little difference these days. If you are in the business of shifting easy to sell commodities, like books and CDs or other stuff that fits in small boxes, why are you NOT selling online? There is no rational reason to avoid this, particularly when both the shop and the client win from the deal. The shop has less of that expensive floorspace to manage, and wins new custom among the elderly (who are increasingly looking online for their needs), disabled, remote and busy. The customer gets to research, peruse, compare and buy at a time of their choosing, an increasingly important condition in these days of TIVO and online news and video.
Most of my attempts to buy online here in Sydney have been thwarted by sites that are poorly constructed and conceived, and lacking an understanding of user needs. A depressingly large number of brands are not connected to a shop or online outlets. Many mistakenly think that providing a downloadable PDF of their brochure is a good way to market their products. Why are the mobile Telcos still so terrible a online experience? Why do so many otherwise switched on companies fail to see the advantages of a better, or even minimal but available online shop?
Even for traditionally strong products that sell well to online bargain hunters, like electronics and computers, I feel poorly served. It would be great to find a few examples of well constructed, easy to search tech sites that work. Everyone I found was sorely lacking in a crucial quality to help me get through the process without a problem. Either they don’t reflect stock levels, if they disclose them at all, many have risible search features, ignore people who want to by several related items at once, (if you’re buying a computer, you might also want to get a printer, some blank DVDs for archives, and some cabling, for example) and otherwise forget all the rules of salesmanship online. And don’t get me started on ludicrous payment gateways that ask me to read an email and transfer funds with a special code and wait 5 days for the process to complete. yeesh!
That’s why I came here. The market is ripe for people with courage to start considering selling online, in particular small specialist shops in city centres who are happy to supply to remote areas in exchange for a creditcard payment. Looking forward to helping you all buy when You want to buy. Th tide is turning, and I look forward to helping those who really do want to engage with their customers, and give them an experience that they will want to return to and reccommend.