Thursday, January 7, 2010

What eBay should learn from retail?

A NonModern shopping approach with a twist.

There’s a say to make a house feel like home, but when you first live on your own, particularly in a foreign country, that can be challenging. I remember apart from finding where to live, which area, zone or what ever, once I sorted that, I found myself in my new room, with a “naked bed”, an empty closet and a dusty desk. I opened my bags and while trying to sort my clothes, I thought – uff I should’ve brought hangers.

But, who brings that sort of stuff in the luggage? When normally, you have to fight the night before with your bags to be able to close it because is already full, on top of the weight limitations and the number of bags.

After struggling for a few days with that, someone told me about Argos, a catalogue for home shopping. To me, the idea of catalogue shopping was rather vintage and just didn’t understand the concept; in my country there is no such thing like them or even if there is, I bet is not as broad and complete like them.

The first time I entered to the shop (or warehouse as I am not sure how to call them because they don’t have a show room), it was very confusing and there was no such thing as “first time here?” or maybe instructions on the wall “starbucks-wise”, they should do something about this, especially in a country with such a high number of immigrants.

Basically you have books on the sides and little red machines that work as stock checkers. You find the product you need, then you type the code and see if it is available, if they do, you write the code in a piece of paper and go to the till and pay, then collect. It sounds easy, but to me it wasn’t the first time as between me being the newbie and also that I was being pushed and shoulder to shoulder by a big woman next to me that was looking for a new laundry airer. Everything was very confusing to me.

Luckily for everybody, they also have an online version of the huge catalogue and a search box that works. In my opinion, that has made it the best place to shop – everything- in Britain. Not because they treat you nicely and offer help when collecting your item, in fact, the shopping experience is completely the opposite, but it is so convenient, and on their website you can read so many reviews about the quality and performance of everything they sell. You can read feedback for simple stuff.

I have bought from travel accessories to kitchenware, and every time I do, I am able to read if it works or not. They normally have several options in the same product category, from cheap to not so cheap, and sometimes the cheap ones work as well as the expensive ones.
Other similar sites in the sense that you can find it all, are eBay but honestly, most of the feedbacks are about sellers performance or quick shipping, not about the actual performance of the product, and if you go through reviews, is not in the same page or so easy to read and find. I guess because I don’t always have the time to research 5 different websites when I want to buy a £2 bike pump.


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