dpd1 - 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.