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I have some ideas I am thinking of trying before I take off for two weeks:
1. Post a message on the home page or a pop-up that the site will not be accepting orders for two weeks.
2. Post on my site I will be away for two weeks but my site can still accept orders, however shipments will be delayed until I get back.
3. Post on my site the shipping time is now 4 weeks and switch it back to the regular 2 weeks when I get back.
4. Show one of the above messages only after a visitor clicks on checkout on the shopping cart.
5. Don't mention anything.
Either option I take, I fear lost of customers or some hacker may take advantage of the fact that the site's owner is not around to notice mischievous activity.
Any of your ideas are welcomed.
I *suppose* that if you don't say anything, it's not the end of the world, either... not sure how long your vacation is, though. In any event, have fun on your vacation! :-)
joined:July 2, 2000
One thing I would never do is close down for two weeks.
Secondly, try to implement a shopping cart software that automates the processes that you have to do manually today. Although it might cost a lot, it saves much time that you can spend otherwise (next shopping-website or whatever). Also you won't need a stand-in for your next vacation.
Have a nice one!
Seriously, though it all depends on your order volumes and whether you are earning your bread and butter from the sites or whether it's just a source of additional income.
Option 3 seems fine to me.
You can also consider setting up a follow-up autoresponder which sends an email after the checkout process that your order will reach you in 4 weeks (be sure to mention that this is for all orders in this month only, however, avoid mentioning that you are on vacation for 2 weeks)
btw, have a nice vacation :)
If proffessional then I would say you will possibly lose business because the internet is 24/7 and people are becoming less and less patient.
I was in a similar situation to you a few years back and I had to make a decision on how it would work. I decided posting that I was away was unproffesional (as large and proffessional companies do not close shop just because one person goes on holiday), delays may even cause a similar reaction depending on what you sell.
I decided what my priorities were and decided that the website business was one of them along with the holiday. So the business would have to come on holiday with me, and I would have to plan accordingly.
So I decided to travel to somewhere I knew I could have internet access readily available in my hotel room, and logged on every few hours. Down to the beach, back to the room.
It was not ideal but I did not lose business and I sort of had a holiday while the people I was with had a great time, just that I kept disapearing and getting a little stressed over different things.
Of course if your business is doing well and you do not want to do room/beach then you should ask a friend to look after your site while you are away, and start thinking about hiring staff so in the future so you do not have this problem.
If your business is serious and you want to build it up then sacrifices have to be made, it can be tough but that is all there is to it.
For longer vacation, I enlist help. We set up a mail rule to forward all mail to myself and the helper. Items were pre-packed when possible. Shipments are sent every day. Technical support and/or order issues were handled whenever I could visit an Internet cafe. Even if you can not resolve an issue until you get back, buyers appreciate you communicating that to them while you are away. As long as you are not deep in the jungles of Thailand, you can find an Internet cafe with a little snooping around the train station or airport.
Maybe I'm too paranoid about security, but FWIW, I wouldn't want to log into any business accounts from a computer in an internet cafe -- especially in a foreign country.
More than a zero percent chance of a keystroke logger being installed on the computer I was using that would enable someone to steal passwords to my business/web accounts is too much risk for me to use such a public use computer.
Same with other "public/kiosk" type computers available to the general public for internet use -- including ones in a library.
The only way I would feel comforatable logging in over a public computer would be if I did so by mouse clicking on the letters of a keyboard displayed on the login screen, where the server displaying the keyboard on the login screen then translated my mouseclicks into characters making up my ID and password to authenticate me.
I would make sure it scambled the location of keys on the keyboard each time the keyboard was displayed on the logon screen, too! That would alleviate much of my worries -- but I would still be careful what characters I typed while logged on. Basically, I wouldn't want to type anything on an internet cafe keyboard I wouldn't mind sending on a postcard.
I like the idea of a laptop with SSH MUCH better!
Just a thought,
It came to mind because I'll be leaving in 2 days for almost two weeks.
I ended up deciding not to make a posting on my sites and instead enlisting the help of a trustworthy friend to package and ship the orders while I used a borrowed laptop, newly loaded with everything I could think of I might need(want) during my vacation to handle everything else.
My wife isn't happy about it but even she agreed that it was a good idea.
Please allow two to three weeks for your order to arrive. If you are placing an order from September 28th to October 11th, please allow four to five weeks for your order to arrive. We are short-staffed during this two-week period, but will process your order as soon as possible.
I also put this in a outgoing email whenever someone tried to email. The problem with this is that you'll get email bounced back if it is a bad sender address from junk mail.
I still received some orders while I was away. I checked a couple of times using the business center of the hotels I was staying in to log in to my email account. I stayed away from cafes.
While I was in China, I decided to use those digital photos I took and put them up on a website. Perhaps one day it'll bring in some revenue from products related to China and travel.
In all, try to forget about your business if you can and just enjoy your vacation. I sure did!
I was processing orders at one point in my daughters college dorm!
A hassle but considering that the price my books is pretty high, and that I figure about 40% of the impluse buyers don't come back, I probably made more than enough to pay for the trip, that I wouldn't have made otherwise.
BTW, one problem a lot of us have that makes it hard to get someone else to cover for us is sketchy order fullfilment systems - between my weird database and obsolete CC software it would take a week just to train someone else to run it, and then something unexpected would probably come up that would stop them dead. One way around this, given a laptop, is to do all the paper and CC work remotely, then just send your "shipper" the invoices so all they have to do is put the required item in the box and ship it.
Three days before we left, I posted a paragraph on the contact and shipping information pages stating that we would be closed for the Christmas holidays from Dec 24th until Jan 2nd, and that orders would not ship during that time. Once we left, I left the same message on our voice mail, and set up an auto responder thanking people for contacting us and letting them know when we would be back.
I was very anxious about leaving because business was really starting to take off for us. I was prepared to lose sales, but was more concerned about helping service customers that already had orders in transit. The hotel did have an internet kiosk and I was able to avoid temptation for the first couple of days but on the third day I caved into my curiosity and logged on "just to see". I popped into WebmasterWorld to see if Google had updated or if any juicy news was breaking but never checked any "work stuff" out. ( I had promised my wife I wouldn't)
Yesterday morning, just before we left for the airport, I snuck away from my wife and logged into to check out the action. My inbox was stuffed full of orders. :o
We arrived home about 7pm last night and rang in the new year by printing orders and answering a ton of email. We had one of our biggest weeks ever with very little in the way of collateral damage. A few people cancelled orders because of the delay, but all in all it seems to have gone off amazingly well! We figure we have about 8 hours worth of packing and shipping work ahead of us, but its a nice problem to have. :)
I would definitely do it again but only during the week of Christmas. It seems to me that it is the only week that you can "close" for the week and have people be understanding about it.
We actually did conduct an inventory, but in the Cayman Islands.
The whole thing worked out well for us, and I think for our customers as well.
Seriously, I go with the Internet Cafe idea combined with a trusted friend to do the manual, real world part. It wasn;t really an internet cafe, but the business center of my hotel. I did a bunch of work over a vacation an hour or so at a time, but then again I had no hard goods to ship.
I don't think I could trust even a savvy computer user with my prized possessions while I was gone. I'd spend days worrying about what I would come back to.
we sell mainly spring/summer lines. we would never consider having a shutdown during our peak months but luckily we can accommodate a christmas shutdown when sales are slacker.
downside of this is that we cant take so much time off in the summer when the weather is good :(