Today I got an email from my credit card company thanking me for my loyalty. They offered me a cup of coffee through a $5 gift card they’ll send me in the mail 4 – 6 weeks from now. Really? The better thank you would be to take $5 off my next credit card bill.
“Managing creative people–not so easy. A lot of emotion, a lot of stroking. Some people need tough love. Some people need a lot of love.”
- Jenna Lyons, in the Fast Company article, How Jenna Lyons Transformed J.Crew into a Cult Brand
I’d say that you could apply this to managing all types of people, not just creative ones.
You may or may not know that I work in software that is mostly used by retailers. The past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about retail and supply chain. While I don’t specialize in e-commerce, due to my love of the Internet, I’m fascinated by it. Most of my interaction with online retail is as a consumer and I’m frustrated. Most retailers
suck are only marginally decent at selling stuff online. But my business side knows it can be better! It can be fixed! Customers can be wowed.
I want to talk about search.
A few months ago, I painted our bathroom and we’ve been doing a little bit of remodeling. I’ve had a hard time finding a new shower curtain I like (and that Chris would be happy with). Yesterday, I found something I like at Target so I bought it and a couple matching towels. Unfortunately, the store I was in was out of the matching bath rug. No worries, I was sure I could buy it online or at another location.
Because there are almost 200 items in this category, I want to narrow my search. This is where I start seeing issues. First, I can narrow by category. As you can see, the first four items are useless. To me, they’re all the same – I can’t tell you the difference between Area Rug, Bath Mat, Bath Rug, and Bath Rug Collection.
Since I already bought the shower curtain and towels, I know the brand of the product so I can narrow by brand. In this case, the brand is Threshold. But apparently Target’s web software thinks that Threshold and Threshold™ are different brands.
These are the kind of thing that drives me crazy about online retail! Have we forgotten that people – real people - are shopping, not computers? (I get that there’s a lot of importance to making a computer-read page too but that’s a whole different discussion.)
The really frustrating thing to me is how easy this is to solve. The data could be cleaned up or we could relax the software rules that build the categories for search. My suggestion is to simply clean up the data and leave the software alone. Hire someone. Or push this back on the manufacturers to provide clean, consistent data in the first place. I know from experience that if the data is wrong on the website, it’s likely wrong on all systems across the company. Cleaning up the data in the master database will help the online customer and it will help people across the organization.
Data, data, data. It’s not hard.
My story has a happy ending. I was able to narrow my search by clicking on both brands and I found the product I wanted. Then I used my favorite button, “Find in Store” and by the magic of inventory systems, I found that a store near me has the product. Later today, I’m going to go buy it, which is exactly what this retailer wanted me to do. But they didn’t have to frustrate me in the process.
A couple weeks ago, my sisters and their families came to Phoenix for a visit. We took the opportunity to have some casual family portraits taken. The photographer was Lisa Olsen, who did a great job and made it fun.
Here are my favorite family portraits from the group.
“Maybe it’s like with food. Or money.
Budgeting makes the good stuff all the more enjoyable.”
I didn’t expect to enjoy this article about swords so much. Thanks, Metafilter!
“Dress your age or your role in life – understand the CONTEXT.”
My friend, Bryan, rides for State Bicycle. They just released a new bike and this is the video they shot in Chicago.
“The big difference of living out here is that in the city the stars are on the ground, and here the stars are in the sky.”
- James H. Evans, photographer who is documenting West Texas