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How to let folks know I'm not brick-and-mortar?
My banner says "Phone Hours" - this is not enough
HRoth




msg:4037089
 5:12 pm on Dec 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

I just got a call from a guy who had driven three hours to come to my shop and did not realize from looking at my site that it is online and mailorder only. I feel really bad. On my banner I have the logo, the founding date, the name of the shop, the street address in small letters (because I've had customers get concerned when the street is not mentioned), the phone number in large letters, and then "Phone Hours" with the hours and days given. I do say on the main page that I am online and mail-order only and don't have a brick-and-mortar shop, but after I kept getting folks dropping by my house (which is thankfully really hard to find), I changed my banner hours to "phone hours," which really helped until this poor fellow. How can I make it clear without saying "not a brick-and-mortar shop"?

 

MWpro




msg:4037099
 5:20 pm on Dec 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

I would never ever use my home address for this reason.

Have you thought about using a PO Box? This would also serve the dual function of letting them know this address is not your physical location (answering your original question).

PO Box fine for me, but if you think your customers would see "PO Box" and not be comfortable, there are also services that can give you a real street address and forward your mail to your home address, although this is a more costly option.

Philosopher




msg:4037101
 5:22 pm on Dec 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Ouch. I have to say, I run a few ecommerce stores and I've never run into this situation....yet (where's some wood to knock on).

It sounds like you are doing just about everything you could do get the point across.

MrHard




msg:4037181
 7:23 pm on Dec 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

"By appointment only", easy for someone to understand. Needs to be right under the address each time.

smartwork




msg:4037355
 11:51 pm on Dec 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Many non-web folks don't know what "brick & mortar" means, so if you're trying to deter them with words, you may try more consumer-oriented phrasing. You could label the address: "Warehouse - no walk-ins" or "Warehouse-no showroom", or something like that. Is it possible to move the address off your main banner to a location like "contact" or "about us" and still satisfy them without having it widespread.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4037601
 11:33 am on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

I would agree with Smartwork. If you move the address to the contacts page and clearly label there it with "no showroom" or whatever that ought to do the trick.

pbradish




msg:4037720
 3:53 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

I would think about getting a PO box or UPS box and use that for a surface address.

mvander




msg:4037814
 7:42 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

My credit card processor mandated I have a non PO box address listed on the website before they would approve the merchant account.

So many times PO box will not be good enough. Luckily no one has come to the door so far (more wood knocking).

MWpro




msg:4037968
 12:34 am on Dec 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Luckily no one has come to the door so far (more wood knocking)

Yeah well let's just hope they like your products.

HRoth




msg:4038179
 3:48 pm on Dec 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

I used to use a PO box, but occasionally customers called because it made them feel uneasy, so when I moved up here, I switched to using a real address. It is kind of out-of-the-way, so I never figured people would drop by, but they have, even when I lived two miles outside of a town of 9000 people.

I like the warehouse idea too, but I also like keeping the address on the banner for reassurance purposes. If I use "by appointment only," I know I will get people calling and asking for an appointment. So I thought about leaving the address up but at the bottom of the banner in smaller type, like this: "Mailorders: 123 Main St., Anytown, USA." Also, inside my logo, where presently I have a remark about supplying widgets since 2000, I have put "Exclusively Online Since 2000". What do you think?

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4038232
 5:37 pm on Dec 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think that if you have an unqualified address then you are still likely to get callers.

smartwork




msg:4038299
 7:53 pm on Dec 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

like this: "Mailorders: 123 Main St., Anytown, USA." Also, inside my logo, where presently I have a remark about supplying widgets since 2000, I have put "Exclusively Online Since 2000". What do you think?

I think "Exclusively Online..." won't mean anything to them at all. If anything, they'll think it's a marketing line, but will overlook your intent for the word "exclusively". If you're having more drop-by than normal for ecom, your customer-base may have a nitch behavior that many other store owners do not have. You mentioned a town of 9000 and that may be the nitch environment... small town. The feeling of small-town comfort may be translating into just dropping by.

Listing the address for Mailorders may still be undefined to shoppers, but I like that one better than the "Exclusively..." one.

What about:

Order processing center (no storefront/showroom): 123 Main St., Anytown, USA

piatkow




msg:4038318
 8:50 pm on Dec 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Whatever you do somebody won't read it and will blame you.
I would say that contact details should be on a page titled accordingly, not on the home page or alongside product details. At that point explicitly state that all sales are by mail order and you have no facilities for callers. Drive the point home by labelling your times as "office hours".

HRoth




msg:4038362
 10:10 pm on Dec 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hmm, order processing center....

I have people who drive literally hours to come here. This three-hour guy is just the farthest anyone has driven. Part of the niche is actually handling the widgets before you buy them, but also there is no other like widget supplier within 3-4 hours of here (for that matter, there is only one in the entire city of the NY--the others have gone out of business). Locals are always asking me why I do not start a b&m shop. Thing is, a friend of mine had a widget shop one hour away. He had a vast amount of inventory compared to me yet still found that he did not make enough to keep it going. He didn't want to work there himself, though. After a year (I would have given it longer), he closed it and is online only. I have thought about going b&m because then I could have classes there, which would be another income stream, and because I am pretty sociable, but I don't think it would be a good business decision for me.

MrHard




msg:4038474
 3:12 am on Dec 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Your probably going to have to say "no" something. No drop ins, no visitors. If not there will always be people who assume you have a storefront.

How did you handle the person who dropped in?

Inviting people into your warehouse could be an issue due to liability. But in these cases it may be easier to just give them what they want and send them on their way. They already there at that point so not much more to do.

HRoth




msg:4038491
 3:59 am on Dec 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

He called because he was driving around my town unable to find my street, which is only one block long, thank the gods. I explained that I didn't have a shop and offered him a $20 gift certificate for driving all the way out from halfway across the state. One time I answered the door thinking it was my mailcarrier and it turned out to be someone who had driven an hour to visit my shop and there I was just rolled out of bed with my suspenders hanging down. :(

I don't have a warehouse. I have a tiny Monopoly house which is half my workspace and half my living space. There is no way I want to have people here. If I did a b&m, it would be in a rented space downtown, such as it is.

Another company that has long been mailorder only has "We are not set up for visitors," which I always thought was pretty nice, but it is too long to put on the banner.

HRoth




msg:4038501
 4:22 am on Dec 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

You know, I just realized that having the address on the banner, which I have been doing to reassure people that my business is indeed real, is just what is making them think it's b&m. So as much as I don't want to, I will have to take it off and put up a contact page and create a contact form instead of using a pop-up email contact.

MrHard




msg:4038543
 7:08 am on Dec 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

That won't work. It's possible to look up your domain and IP and trace the physical location.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4038575
 8:56 am on Dec 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's possible but John/Jane Doe won't do that.

PCInk




msg:4038591
 10:00 am on Dec 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Have you thought about using a PO Box?

This is against the law depending on which countries you sell to.

If it is a problem with people turning up, I would use the phrase "Administration Office" or "Head Office" in front the the address.

johnhh




msg:4039103
 10:13 pm on Dec 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

We just put

There are no facilities for customers personal collections at these addresses. Please do not attempt to collect an order. There is no shop front or customer service facility available at the warehouse in #*$!X or the addresses shown

To date we have had one person who turned up and our manager redirected him to the warehouse.

<clarify> we show two addresses, one for accounts ( me :( ) and one for sales ( the managers home address </clarify>

Swanny007




msg:4039111
 10:22 pm on Dec 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Can you just use the PO box number like an apartment number, and then the actual address of the postal office as your physical address?

e.g.
#50900 - 1234 Main St
Anytown

Where 50900 is the PO box number of the post office at 1234 main st?

MrHard




msg:4039161
 12:48 am on Dec 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Can you just use the PO box number like an apartment number, and then the actual address of the postal office as your physical address?

This would enable people to mail things, but people would just show up at the post office wondering where the store was.

Swanny007




msg:4039189
 1:50 am on Dec 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yeah, you'd still need to put a disclaimer somewhere up on the website that there's no showroom... but that would stop people from coming to your house...

HRoth




msg:4039440
 1:19 pm on Dec 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

I ended up taking the address, phone hours, and even the phone number off the banner and putting it on a contact page in a good-sized image as well as in the text. I looked at the main pages of sites listed as "similar" in Google and a couple of shops I know of in the same niche, and none of them had any info on their main page banners outside of their name and what they sell. I have a contact link on every page of the site. I am still not sure if I should leave the phone number off the banner, like others do.

Philosopher




msg:4039492
 3:25 pm on Dec 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

I would put the phone # in the banner. There is no reason not to and from my experience this DOES increase customer confidence.

HRoth




msg:4039726
 10:44 pm on Dec 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yeah, I think you're right. I put it on.

Thanks all. This really helped me get this squared away. I am happy with the result. Now let's see if anyone else shows up.:)

pbradish




msg:4040303
 9:06 pm on Dec 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

I would put the phone # in the banner. There is no reason not to and from my experience this DOES increase customer confidence.

Unless you can't handle the call volume. I had that problem with my 1st site. But I'm with you, it certainly does increase customer confidence.

rise2it




msg:4041212
 7:58 am on Dec 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Have any friends that would rent/lease you a small space (maybe a display in their store) to use as a (cough cough) storefront?

HRoth




msg:4041286
 12:03 pm on Dec 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

There is one, but her shop is in a different town about a half-hour from here, so I haven't considered it. Our own downtown is nothing but closed shops and tattoo parlors.

This 42 message thread spans 2 pages: 42 ( [1] 2 > >
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