Friday, January 2, 2009

My First Internet Christmas

For most of my years in business, Christmas meant being here working to make special orders and keep the store stocked to a comfortable bursting. The only money I made was from who came in the door and that meant being here. But the past few years has seen me going out to sheep and wool festivals and focusing my website on my shawl pins and other fiber related items. The beginning of April I added Paypal to my site and discovered that I could be doing something out of the studio while someone in California or England ordered an item from me. I could be paid at 2:00AM for an item I would ship at 2:00 PM the next day. So this Christmas I went to parties (and therefore ate more food) and sang at every event Three Sheets to the Wind was booked. The horizon now seemed a lot further away.
Looking back on January 2nd I have a fuller perspective. I did miss the interaction in the studio. And since I wasn't open as much I did not have the studio looking in a way that encouraged gift buying. What it did encourage was stress for me and confusion for anyone who came in.
The biggest difference is that I am used to face to face interaction. Most customers know me or of me through years of being in Rockport. On the Internet they only know one thing: they are waiting for an item they have paid for but only seen in pictures. It has to come fast and be just like what they saw in the photo or better. Mostly I can do that. But two times I really messed up. In one order I sent the wrong items to the lesser of the preferred addresses. So today I resent their order along with a refund to take some of the sting out of a late Chrstmas gift.
The second order was belatedly discovered under something about twelve days after the fact. Although I always communicated with the buyer the anger and disbelief that I had not done this on purpose was all too obvious in the tone of the emails even after delivery.
This is not a world that encourages trust among strangers especially where money is involved. My only power is to ship fast, communicate with buyers, listen to the feedback to limit misunderstanding and, above all, turn off the ego.
Blog On!
Leslie