Thursday, 14 January 2010

On “Postage & Packing”

I’ve been reading a lot of books, papers and blogs recently about online marketing. It’s probably true that many sites have really nailed the whole user experience thing. Sites such as Amazon are great at getting us to them – their reputation, our loyalty, high search rankings. And when we are on-site and we find what we want, there is plenty of reassurance that it is the right product – photos, descriptions and, especially, user reviews. We trust these sites. We trust them not to sell us fakes, or skim our credit card or sell our data to fraudsters.

But they are all rubbish when it comes to delivery.

I guess we all realise that “postage & packaging” is really a stealth mark-up. Somehow, we convince ourselves that if it isn’t included in the advertised price then we don’t need to include it in the cost of purchase. So, we get charged an extortionate price for them to put the goods in a cheap cardboard wrap and send it in the post. You want it in three days rather than five? Sure, that’s double. Overnight? Yippee, more profit.

And why can’t they be upfront about the dreaded p&p? Why wait until the very end of the buying process to add the delivery tax? Amazon have a particularly good scam: buy three things in the same basket, unwittingly from three different suppliers (when you thought you were buying from Amazon!) and pay three delivery taxes. Oh joy unbounded!!

And then comes the ritual of doorstep delivery. Despite the fact that they remain stuck in 1960s industrial relations, hell-bent on self destruction, the favourite deliverer remains the Royal Mail who now deliver once per day at noon.

When I’m not in.

So, armed with my “sorry I missed you” card, I have to wait until Saturday morning, drive to the central Post Office (ten miles round trip, say two quid in diesel), park (add another two quid for minimum of an hour) wait in line, show an ID and collect my goods.

What!!! I pay through the nose for postage and packing, then I have to pay more to go and collect it?

Look, if you’re reading this and you work for an online retailer:

- Show me the price inclusive of reasonable delivery – next-day great, day after ok, anything longer forget it.

- Delivery is not the same as dispatch. I don’t care when you dispatch it, I’m only interested in receiving it.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Dear Steve Jobs

Dear Steve Jobs

I’d like to say thank-you for my Iphone. No, it wasn’t a Christmas present, I’ve had it since January 2009 and I LOVE IT. I just haven’t gotten around to thanking you yet.

However, the thought occurs that my contract with O2 expires in July, so that would be the perfect time for you to bring out a new model, wouldn’t it?

I was wondering though, if you could see your way clear to adding a couple of things.

For instance:

- Customised e-mail and text alerts because, frankly, the current ones are pants

- Synching over wi-fi; my computer connects wirelessly to the same network as my Iphone, so why do I need a piece of wire to get them to talk to each other?

- A better camera because, frankly, the existing one just isn’t anything. A better lens, zoom and a bit more resolution would be a nice.

- Better battery life. Yes, I know that the 3GS is better but still not great.

- An SMS outbox when for when there is no reception and automatic re-send it when there is a good signal.

Yep, that just about covers it.