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This 33 message thread spans 2 pages: 33 ( [1] 2 > >     
The home based biz, site contact info predicament
Trust issues
dpd1




msg:4387820
 10:55 pm on Nov 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

This was touched on in a different thread, but it's something I've wrestled with for a while. I mainly run the biz from home. I do some of the heavy manufacturing work for my products at another space, but I do not own it... It belongs to someone else who lets me share it. So using that as a contact is a no go, because I wouldn't be there most of the time anyway.

Last year I took out a box at a PO nearby for my domain reg. I did it because I had some nut post all my whois info after somebody asked if anyone had purchased something from us and if they liked it. Why on earth somebody replied with my whois info, I have no idea. People are crazy. I also tried my actual address for a short time and had a few people come to the door. Between that and the whois incident, I just don't want my real address connected with the site.

The PO I got the box at is not close enough to be handy. The closer one has no boxes available. So because I don't have time to run over to the box, I have not used that address on the site. I didn't want to risk someone sending a payment and having it sit there. Plus, I sort of feel like... the paranoid types are not going to be happy with a PO anyway. In fact, it would probably just make them more suspicious.

I found a retail mail box store that offers a street address and also has a phone option where you can call and see if you have mail. About $20 a month. I'm thinking I might do that.

Then there's the situation with the phone number on a small biz site as well, but that's another deal.

 

JackieBlue




msg:4387921
 4:01 am on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

I used a UPS store address for awhile to receive mdse as well as regular mail. We then moved to our own space - $700 a month. Worth the hassle of having no longer having it my house or storage area ( a lot of running around there). Plus, I now hire employees who do not need to work out of their home. The phone issue was easy - I just had them use my cell phone and put an appropriate voice message on there.

wheel




msg:4388028
 12:19 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

You're basically demonstrating why people don't want to deal with you - you don't want to be found. That's why people want real addresses. Even if they never have to find you.

I work from my home. My home address is listed as our business address. I have a toll free phone number that gets answered through the day (absolutely - I want customer calls). I don't have any problems. Actually the only problem I've had is a sales rep saw an article about me in a newspaper and decided to drop by unannounced, realized it was our house, and called instead.

Get a toll free number, forward it to your cell phone and answer it when it rings. List your home address as the business address, then make a note that is a shipping address only and there are no customer service facilities at that location.

Remember, people don't necessarily want to drop by. They just want to deal with a real business that's not anonymous. So pick which one you're going to be.

mhansen




msg:4388045
 1:24 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have to agree with what Wheel is saying.

We have worked from our home office for many years and do it the same way. 800 number forwards to cell, home address in Google maps and Google local, etc. We also have a PO box for various reasons.

We actually think it sets us apart from businesses like you are talking about who hide their location, and we put it out there as a reason to do business with us, versus them.

You may find that 2% of your customers will only do business on the phone, or at least want to know there is somewhere they can go to if they need to.

wheel




msg:4388048
 1:29 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

We actually think it sets us apart from businesses like you are talking about who hide their location, and we put it out there as a reason to do business with us, versus them.

I agree. Not only do I have contact info, I put up names and information about us - my name and background, my wife/admin's name and background, and an associate I work with's full background info. I push to make us as 'real' as possible.

In the end, people want to deal online, but they want to deal online with a B&M store.

piatkow




msg:4388082
 2:08 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)


In the end, people want to deal online, but they want to deal online with a B&M store.

Agree 100%. I have never had people turning up on the doorstep but have had the occasional one ring up to ask what my address is (to post hardcopy). The only place my phone number is published is next to my address on the contact page - go figure!

topr8




msg:4388090
 2:24 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

do you have an accountant?

if so, use their office address as your address - assuming you won't be contacted that way in general.

JackieBlue




msg:4388182
 5:08 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

+1 to wheel.

rocknbil




msg:4388195
 5:48 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

dpd are you profiting? Why don't you bite the bullet and open an office somewhere? It will increase trust tenfold.

wheel




msg:4388207
 6:28 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Not necessarily. I had an office for 2 years. All it did was waste money. Worse (much, much worse), I had to get up every day and 'go to work'. Holy crap, people still do that?

dpd1




msg:4388213
 6:36 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Wheel, I don't recall saying anywhere that people don't want to deal with me. I have plenty of business and have never had trust issues. I sell to some of the biggest companies in the world. But I assume there could potentially be an issue here and there where people might not feel safe without seeing an address prominently displayed. Customers I deal with most have my number also.

I don't know, maybe you guys have better luck. I had my address on the site before. Within a month I had some guy come knock on the door that apparently looked like he had crawled out of a dumpster. The woman who was here politely told him what the deal was, then as she was closing the door, he put his hand against the door and scared the crap out of her. Then a couple months later another guy showed up... She once again told him what the deal was... He proceeded to go sit in his car (which it looked like he was living in) and just wait there staring into space. I came back and asked the guy to leave, and he didn't exactly seem quite right in the head. A few months later a guy showed up and I told him what the deal was... He got all angry and left, then I caught him driving by the next day.

I made it very clear on the site we were not open to the public. I had a couple normal people stop by as well, who were understanding. But the other guys made it clear to me that having my actual address on there was not going to work. I cannot have people like that hanging around the neighborhood. And no, I don't sell items that attract weirdos. At least, they shouldn't. So I don't know what was up with those guys.

Any space that would handle both manufacturing and office would be very expensive in this area. I couldn't justify that just to have an address. I'll probably just go with the dedicated box that has an address.

wheel




msg:4388220
 7:16 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

You didn't say that anywhere. I told you that.

You won't get my money if there's no address on the website. I mean, how mickey mouse is that? You have trust issues - you just don't realize that you have trust issues.

Trust is huuuuuge. The last redesign of my website specifically targetted trust, and it made a difference in sales.

votrechien




msg:4388266
 9:13 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

You're basically demonstrating why people don't want to deal with you - you don't want to be found. That's why people want real addresses. Even if they never have to find you.


What Wheel is saying is absolutely true- you don't want to be found and that's creating the trust issues. But you're justified in not wanting people to find your home address, especially if you deal in an industry that may be prone to some creepers.

There's no ideal way to deal with this, and the best solutions get incrementally more expensive (a mail forwarding service is superior to no address, and a business address is superior to a mail forwarding service). You have to ask why it is you want to display your address anyways. Is it because...

1) To add credibility to yourself? A phone number, business number, customer reviews, etc. likely add more credibility than a mere address (try finding an address for any of the main web only ecommerce stores)

2) To let visitors know the rough geographic area you're in? Then simply say "Surrey, BC Canada V3V-1Y4".

3) For mailing purposes? I can't imagine why anyone would really want to mail you without contacting you first anyways so just request them to email you for your delivery address.

Again, there's going to be some tradeoffs inevitably until you can bring in enough profits to justify a non-home presence.

dpd1




msg:4388345
 12:38 am on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

You didn't say that anywhere. I told you that.

You won't get my money if there's no address on the website. I mean, how mickey mouse is that? You have trust issues - you just don't realize that you have trust issues.

Trust is huuuuuge. The last redesign of my website specifically targetted trust, and it made a difference in sales.


Apparently it can't be too mickey mouse, otherwise I wouldn't have more business than I can deal with. I never said it was a perfect solution... Obviously it's an issue I'm concerned with, otherwise why would I have posted about it. I guess I should have just kept it on there.... Gee, sorry you got raped, but I don't want my website to have "trust issues".

wheel




msg:4388358
 1:10 am on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

You want to be a business, or you want to be a recluse. Every normal business that I know has a business address. You don't want to do that, do whatever, for whatever reasons float your boat. Nobody on the internet really cares whether you put your address up or not. I'm just telling you the ramifications of not putting it up.

And if you've got too much business, good for you, stay anonymous.

votrechien




msg:4388384
 2:22 am on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

You want to be a business, or you want to be a recluse. Every normal business that I know has a business address. You don't want to do that, do whatever, for whatever reasons float your boat. Nobody on the internet really cares whether you put your address up or not. I'm just telling you the ramifications of not putting it up.


Many, many ecommerce businesses do not post an easily accessible address for the reasons described above. Yes, posting an address does increase trust, but do those benefits outweigh the costs of having customers visiting a location with false expectations of a real store front or, even worse, the dramatically increased target you'll be for thieves?

Your overall point is good Wheel, but your tone is a little a abrasive :)

dpd1




msg:4388398
 3:21 am on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

You want to be a business, or you want to be a recluse.


lol... Dude, what the heck are you even talking about? The whole reason I posted this is because I want to do the right thing, but wasn't sure how. Is this the way you act with customers? Being obnoxious can lose sales too you know.

jwolthuis




msg:4388595
 5:38 pm on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Some very strong opinions in this thread. I'd suggest that it's not so black-and white. While the OP was asking about publishing an "address", I'd like to comment on a phone number, which is certainly related, as a caller can ask for your address.

Regarding the 800-number, we published an 800-number and a regular toll-number for a while, but it led to he-said-she-said issues, accusations of "you promised this tool would work" (we never make guarantees), and lots of lonely people wanting to chat for an hour.

We sell worldwide, and while someone commented that they, "answer thoughout the day", the definition of "day" varies everywhere. It was common to receive calls on Sunday night from Australia, where it was "day".

So we communicate via email-only, so that we leave a "paper trail". I'm sure we lose orders, because some folks need a phone number (I guess they don't order from Amazon either), but the quality and thouroughness of our email responses is better.

Call me a recluse, but IMO an email address that gets answered within a two-hour window beats an 800-number tied to cellphone voicemail.

bwnbwn




msg:4388623
 6:46 pm on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

dpd1 if I had that happen 2 me yes I would be were you are. I can see some of the other's points but safety is more important than anything else. Why don't you just do this.
Leave the PO Box as is and have all mail forwarded to your address. This way if a check or payment comes in you get the mail at your place, the nuts can't find you, your safe from strange people showing up, and besides we use a PO Box as our address due to the fact we are growing and have moved several times. I see no issues with a PO Box. Just my meek opinion. :)

wheel




msg:4388635
 6:59 pm on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Your overall point is good Wheel, but your tone is a little a abrasive :)

Do I look like your mother?

bwnbwn




msg:4388645
 7:28 pm on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think what he means wheel it is "your way or the highway". That type of posting realy doesn't help the op find a resolution to his issue. Then you get the discussion thrown in the wrong direction.
Your opinion is just that he has nuts showing up at his door, maybe it that happened several times at your place your tone would tone down a little.
Do I look like your mother?
Wonder were this came from you must be on the pill or something today.
JackieBlue




msg:4388798
 5:51 am on Nov 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

I mean really, spend the $200 a year on a box at the local UPS Store, PostNet, or whatever is like that where you live. I had 2 of them at one point, one for deliveries and one for mailing because the post office for shipping wouldn't take the mail because the zip code wasn't their office - long story there. For your phone, just get a toll free number, have it roll to your cell phone, you can choose to answer it or not, and the voice mail get's delivered to your email. This is maybe $30 a month in the US. So, for $46 a month, your problems go away, your trust factor increases, and you have no creeps coming by, you have a real street address (not just a po box) and a phone number. I honestly do not understand why this is so hard. I also recommend you read the book "The Four Hour Work Week". The guy is a bit absurd but you get some valuable information on how to streamline things. Best of luck.

lorax




msg:4388872
 2:49 pm on Nov 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Alright gents - let's not let this thread spiral any further downward and off topic.

There are valid points in wheel's posts AND in dpd1's. There are several unknowns that I think influence the decision to publish your home address as your business address. The biggest issue is the audience/market. Having what looked like a homeless person showing up on your doorstep makes me wonder what you're selling that he could afford or if they couldn't afford it - why would he appear? Is the product controversial? If so, that could be a reason to keep your biz addy separate from your home addy.

If that's not the case though, I agree with wheel in the confidence a physical address builds within the buyer. I don't like PO boxes either. I want to know where you are on the planet so I can get to you if I want to - not that I would but it does afford me a level of confidence in you that you're willing to step out from behind the curtain of anonymity.

incrediBILL




msg:4388900
 5:47 pm on Nov 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

I also tried my actual address for a short time and had a few people come to the door.


The home based address issue is something I grapple with all the time but for slightly different reasons than mentioned above.

Some scraper scrapes your site, you manage to DMCA the idiot out of business, which requires providing your real contact info. Next thing you know, and this has actually happened to someone I know, the scraper showed up at their home ready to inflict bodily harm. Of course the guy that filed the DMCA heard the idiots loud-mouthed approach to his place and didn't open the door, he called the cops instead.

I live in a somewhat secure building, but I certainly wouldn't want some idiots coming to my house when I'm not home and it's just the wife there alone who might not realize they're idiots at the door until it's too late.

Wheel is right though, the more real you make the site look the more likely people are to spend money. I provide my name and an actual phone number you can call, but that's as real as I'm going to make it as long as it's home-based.

FWIW, To keep support calls down, I don't supply an 800# for the simple reason it makes it too easy for people to call for 'support' when they really don't need it. Found out people will call those 800#s and waste your time, and increase your costs, for any old reason if it's free. No thanks. The phone # is real, just not free ;)

HRoth




msg:4388904
 6:10 pm on Nov 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

"You won't get my money if there's no address on the website."

People are not thinking about the fact that what you can do or not do depends on what you are selling and to whom. In my niche, NO ONE puts up a realworld address on their site, not even a PO box. Some even hide their phone number. It's not because they are dicey. It is because of the nature of our niche. I am odd because I do have one, although it is buried now for precisely the reasons why dpd1 outlines. I had people dropping by all the time. They weren't scary--in fact, I think I probably scared THEM:)--but they were not what I want. It didn't matter that I put that my location was an office only or that I had no brick-and-mortar store. People would just want to see the "shop." One guy drove three hours in order to "drop by."

I used to have a PO box listed, but I had a similar problem to dpd1 about the closeness of the po boxes. I didn't want to have to waste time every day going to the post office, especially when I was living in a place where the road was often not plowed for a couple days after a snowstorm. So I buried the physical address on a contact page, and that is the ONLY page it is on. There, in a paragraph, I can explain that I do not have a brick-and-mortar store, that it is online only, and that my work premises is "not set up for visitors," a phrase I saw someone else using and adopted. This has cut way back on the number of people who drop by. Has it caused me to not make any money? No, it has not. I have not seen any effect on sales.

My address is on my WHOIS info, but I have never had anyone look that up on me and post it like dpd1 has. Btw, dpd1, you can have that info on your WHOIS masked if you want. They usually do it for a few extra bucks per year.

It is possible where I live to rent a small office for a couple hundred bucks (literally) a month. I thought about it but decided against it. It's flushing money down the toilet, I'm not going to spending any time there, and I don't need a ruse to do business. I want people to know that I am working individually on my products, that I am NOT a big industry, that I am open to custom work, that I personally listen to what they want, that I pay attention to detail, not mass quantity. I have found that by being up front that *I* am my business, people have an entirely different set of expectations that are much more in keeping with what I consider to be the thrust of my business: unusual items, hand crafted, not cheap, not mass produced, not Chinese imports, not made in a sweatshop, original, creative, and high quality, produced by someone with great care and great knowledge of the craft. I no longer get the customers who want cheap and fast, which is good by me.

How you manage your business and what you put on the web depends on what you sell and who your customers are. There are no rules you MUST follow. Heck, I have seen people make a good living and not even take cards.

incrediBILL




msg:4388910
 6:33 pm on Nov 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

I used to have a PO box listed, but I had a similar problem to dpd1 about the closeness of the po boxes.


How many customers actually send you things via the mail that making a weekly or bi-weekly trip to the PO box wouldn't suffice? You can have a PO box just to post on your website yet still use your actual address for non-customer related business correspondence.

jwolthuis




msg:4389373
 12:53 pm on Nov 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't supply an 800# for the simple reason it makes it too easy for people to call for 'support' when they really don't need it. Found out people will call those 800#s and waste your time, and increase your costs, for any old reason if it's free.


+1. Lots of lonely people out there who will spend an hour on your dime, and have you search your website for them, or to read the owner's manual to them.

They typically place nice-sized orders, but once you factor-in the cost of single-tasking your employee to chat on the phone for that hour, it's just not worth it.

wheel




msg:4389404
 2:44 pm on Nov 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

jwolthuis, that's not the customer's fault, that's your's :).

What you need to do is qualify the customer. If they don't give you the right buying signals up front, unload them. You may have to spend some time determing what questions to ask to nail that down.

If someone's wasting my time on the phone, I wrap it up fast. "thanks for your time, goodbye. click" is what they get from me.

But buying customers? they love my service - they can call and get answers. Even for internet businesses, having great phone service can make sales, and solidify customer relations. I've got testimonials about this type of stuff on my website - e.g. called and spoke to a real human being.

dpd1




msg:4389749
 8:39 am on Nov 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

As HR said, and I totally agree... There is no mold for this stuff. I think there's a certain kind of business that is more the majority online (and probably fits the typical description of 'ecommerce' more) and that is a business that does not manufacture their own stuff. I would bet that the majority of guys here either warehouse on some level, and/or drop-ship. The manufacturing guys like me are probably more the minority. Each one has their own issues. But I think what happens sometimes, is the more atypical 'ecommerce' guys, don't realize there's a whole other side to web sales for guys who manufacture. Typical ecommerce guys who do NOT manufacture, spend most of their time on site issues, taking calls... actual biz admin stuff. When you retail, the more you can put yourself above the other guys out there, the better. So things like SEO, contact info and all that... becomes a big thing. Which I understand. But... For us guys that manufacture... we have to deal with the site AND make stuff. I'm not trying to say we work harder necessarily, but it's just a fact that we have a whole lot of other stuff going on that we have to focus on, besides the site or customers. Plus... Because we have products that are unique in the market, we can slack off a little on the site part. And in many cases, we have no choice. What did most guys in ecommerce here do Monday? Fill orders? Work on your site? I actually would have liked to do something like that, but I spent 10 straight hours drilling holes in little pieces of metal.

So we all have different needs and different priorities. When I'm working 7 days a week (mainly on production)... something like my address being on the site, honestly just never seemed like a huge deal to me. That's not to say I didn't think about it, or think that it was great that it wasn't on there. It just wasn't that high on the list.

Anyway... I live in an area where thousands of people don't want to be found (L.A.) lol So turns out, there are numerous box places around here, that have a street address and even have a call in for email feature, where you can check and see if you have mail without having to go there. So I'll probably go with that. The reason why I didn't do a USPS PO box, was because I just didn't think that would accomplish much. I assumed people would look at that and just think... 'Well, why doesn't this guy put a real address... What's he hiding?' Which defeats the whole purpose.

As far as the phone goes... Like I said, I have regular, more professional customers that have it. I sell mostly consumer, but also corporate and DOD. The items for the consumers are sort of hobby related, and it's one of those things where people can be very obsessed about there hobbies. So yes, you do get calls where people just want to ramble on. And those people also get very offended when you sort of try and brush them off. I believe, more so than just not talking to them at all on the phone. I also get many technical questions, and I would rather respond to those in writing. It gives me time to think about it, and also something detailed for people to refer back to. Otherwise, guaranteed, I will get them asking the same questions 3 more times. What I will probably do with the phone is put it back on there, but basically strongly hint they should use email. I've found that some people go straight to phone, because they're used to being ignored on email. That I can understand, because that does happen. But I respond to virtually every email in the same day. Sometimes right way. But the important part is that I can do it when I want, like when I take a break from my marathon hole drilling session. Also... Voice mail is great, but you still have to call them back and be drawn into the endless conversations.

The vibe I have gotten with people the last few years, is that... compared to some of the highly polished retail sites out there... Yes, I am lacking. I don;t have 5 payment methods and 10 email updates on orders and all that stuff. But... When people contact me and get things custom made for no extra charge, or they get all kinds of free tech help, or a part mailed out to fix something for free, or just the fact that an actual guy who knows what the F he's talking about is willing to help them... They understand and brush aside some of the little less polished things that a more big-time site/biz would have.

So there you go... Not a perfect solution, but nothing ever is.

wheel




msg:4389784
 11:38 am on Nov 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

So we all have different needs and different priorities. When I'm working 7 days a week (mainly on production)... something like my address being on the site, honestly just never seemed like a huge deal to me. That's not to say I didn't think about it, or think that it was great that it wasn't on there. It just wasn't that high on the list.

Here's the thing. All those little things that you think don't make much difference? They add up and become a huge thing.

Earlier this year my site wasn't converting like I knew it should. I contacted some high end conversion specialist and basically got pointed to a place where some regular users tested out my site.

None of those testers said anything was seriously wrong with the site. But they ALL said there was a handful of tiny things wrong. And I already knew there was a few things wrong - things that didn't make much difference.

My testimonials were buried. I knew that. They were there if you looked.

My media mentions didn't link out. I knew that, figured nobody knew, and was hoarding PR.

etc.

All I did was make a few little trust changes like that, and my conversions increased immediately and noticeably - I believe multiples more.

Nothing wrong with the site, just a few little trust issues. In other words, it's more serious than you think - based on my experience.

This 33 message thread spans 2 pages: 33 ( [1] 2 > >
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