I was asked to look at E-Commerce sites for my CGD244 class and see what I like and dislike about the ones I frequent often. It was the first time I saw the trees via the forest. Why do I really like some stores and how come I hate others?
No… really? How come?
Here’s some brief answers. Keep in mind that there are some stores I love to visit but I’m frustrated by their lack of on-line shopping tools and some of them force me to spend my money elsewhere.
Utrecht – http://www.utrechtart.com/
Art supply store – Very dangerous! You will accidently spend too much money.
Amazon – http://amazon.com
This is way too obvious but Amazon has a special tool for shopping – The One Click purchase. After you’ve loaded all of your information on to their site you can chose the “One Click” option and not have to go through the hassle of answering the same questions over and over again.
L.L.Bean – http://www.llbean.com/
L.L. Bean is one of the best on-line stores; you could shop there forever and never have to set foot in a store. The website gives you the option of looking at all of the products and actually zoom in on specific items so there are few surprises when the items arrive in the mail. This site also has a secure shopping cart and asks returning customers security questions to make sure you’re you and not just someone else who just happened to sit at the same computer you logged into.
Green Mountain Coffee – http://www.greenmountaincoffee.com
This is an important website for web developers to take special note of; visitors can actually subscribe to flavors of coffee. Simply pick your favorite flavors and they will be delivered to your door once a month, either by the K-Cup or by the Pound. You can also find flavors that aren’t available in stores.
Zazzle – http://Zazzle.com
Not only is it painfully easy to buy items on this website, but it’s also easy to actually SELL items on this website, too. The process to upload images you create is easy and they even offer instructions on how to make sure you image files are ready to print on their media. It’s a powerful tool for Graphic Designers to show off their designs on products people actually wear and use.
Creative Encounters – http://www.creative-encounters.com/default.htm
I love this brick and mortar store, I go there often in person to buy supplies and to get the things I can’t get anywhere else like top of the line drafting pencils. I envy the webmaster of this website… Except THERE IS NOW ESTORE!
Michael’s – http://www.michaels.com/
There are a couple of reasons why I just can’t stand Michaels, even though I spend a lot of cash there. It’s a hard place for a male artist to take himself seriously when it seems so feminized and childish. There is no on-line store… but there are “wishlists.” You actually have to go to the store itself to buy the things you need.
Zepher Designs – http://www.zephyrdesignsvt.com/
Very similar to the website for “Creative Encounters” – Just an advertisement for the store with no way of buying anything on-line; I think the same person built both sites. Breaks my heart knowing that the place where I used to buy all of my art stuff as a kid doesn’t have a way for me to keep buying stuff from them now. Oh well… guess I gotta take a trip back to the old stomping grounds once in a while.
Norm’s Ski & Bike Shop – http://www.normsskibike.com/
There is nothing on the website that’s clickable and you can buy and you can’t browse items. It’s another “brochure” website just to get you into the store. Regardless… A Graphic Designer sometimes needs to get away from the desk and get the blood pumping. This is my favorite sports shop in the area. Go there often.
Why I Would Buy Products From Specific Websites
The most obvious answer is simple, I would actually buy items from specific websites that offer different payment options besides just credit cards. Sometimes if I’m buying from a website I’ve never heard of before then I’ll use PayPal and only put just enough money into my PayPal account to cover the items.
I’ll also buy from a store that will allow me to read reviews from other shoppers on the site. I search the internet for reviews and better prices but If I can actually read other customer reviews on the site, it’ll make my decision making process faster.
Why I Would Buy Products From Specific Websites
Nothing will turn a customer off faster than an amateurish looking website.
To actually make a website work for you, you actually have to have to give the customers the option of buying items on-line. Too many stores that have websites that I visit often don’t have shopping carts.
Some of these stores should have the option for you to pick out what you need and have all the items waiting for you in a bag and rung up at the register for when you arrive so you can at least do some on-line shopping. It’s frustrating to see something you want to buy on a website, then go to the store and have a problem finding that same item on their shelves (as it’s happened to me too many time at Michaels.) or see that they advertise an object on their website but don’t have it in stock in their actual store.
I would rather take the time to drive from Rindge NH to Utrecht in Cambridge, Ma, and know that I’ll find what I’m looking for when I get there than go to a franchise like Michaels and run the risk of not finding what I’m looking for while getting annoyed.
I also want to write a special note about Michaels again… while they have a lot of great stuff for artists and graphic designers – if you can find it – I’m annoyed by the fact that the store and the website is geared more for the elderly spinsters and idle-minded housewife that has nothing better to do than play at craft making. It’s not a welcoming environment for a man.
For reasons I don’t fully understand I always feel a little embarrassed by Michaels and I wish there were alternatives for graphic designers like myself.