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Wednesday, 24 May, 2000, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Do you like shopping online?
With the collapse of online fashion and sportswear retailer Boo.com, is this the end for shopping on the web?Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Boo appears to have gone bust because of a cash-flow crisis. But it was rashly ambitious in launching simultaneously in 18 countries across two continents, and online shoppers found its cutting-edge high-tech website hard to use.
Do you like shopping on the web or do you always want to see and feel the goods before you buy? Is e-retailing just a fancy name for mail order? Tell us what you think.
I love shopping on-line! It's so convenient - I can shop late on an evening after a long day at work. So far I've bought DVDs, books, clothes and groceries amongst other things. Delivery of the DVDs and books in particular has been excellent and some of the companies have an excellent attitude towards their customers.
Shopping without the computer decreases the risk of being bitterly disappointed by your purchases as you can try on the clothes there and then without having to worry about whether the size is right or whether the style and colour suit you. All in all, e-mail shopping is a bad idea!
Laura Campbell, England
I find it hard to believe that the online retailers (e-tailers) will ever make money. Although I did use Amazon to buy books and CD's etc., I now routinely use Dealpilot to search the web for the cheapest availability of an item including shipping. I only purchase items from whoever sells the item cheapest including shipping and handling.
More often than not, only after I've taken the time to shop, select items, and
laboriously fill out the on-line purchase form, do I discover that the
system won't accept a foreign customer. This is truly infuriating! An
example is when my input keeps bouncing back telling me to input my
state, or zipcode.
Am I the only person who has noticed that not only was Boo.com's line of clothing poor, but that most of us want to feel the material, try on the clothes, etc before we buy.
Food shopping through the internet is great, as well as electronic items since we can see from the specs what is available, but items that require that personal touch will always be better in shops...
The demise of Boo simply shows, as one reporter commented, that style can no longer win over substance. Online businesses must add more value to their offering, give better customer service and sell at competitive prices, because the customer is only a click away from the competitor's site. The real challenge ahead is whether consumer confidence and trust in online businesses has reached a level where e-tailing can really take off. Businesses have already developed the security software necessary for secure payment systems: now, they must focus on convincing the customer of this and work on becoming as credible as traditional high-street brands.
A lot of e-commerce sites are design by programmers that have no idea about marketing or what their audience want to use their site for. Marketing professionals should take full control over the design of such sites.
Ian Gray, UK
I love to shop online.
What a time saver, no need to go
to those huge ugly malls in the US.
Prices are competitive, especially
To some people internet shopping is a god send. The nature of my job does not always allow me to go shopping whilst the shops are open. Also, I have to work in areas where sometimes there is very little choice. It gives me a flexible fallback to acquire things when in these situations.
Maria Gatti, Québec - Canada
As a customer support rep for Online retail store (family wonder) i think online shopping is fantastic, easy and fun. But, one cannot override the fundamentals of Economics. I think boo.com overshot in this area.
Internet shopping is great! It allows me to buy things from America which I can't get here!
I can buy books which go unreleased in the UK, I can buy CDs which go unreleased over here (or if you find them as an import, they're twice the price), and I can buy DVD's of films which have barely hit the cinema!
Supermarket shopping over the Internet can feasibly replace 20 cars going to the supermarket with one delivery van - lessening traffic and pollution.
Admittedly, I wouldn't buy clothes over the Internet. I'd want to see them and maybe try them on.
Maybe that's why Boo was doomed?
John Whelan, Canada
Far from it. Online shopping is
convenient, it is fast. Shoppers will
not have to contend with
crowded shopping malls, rude
cashiers and salespeople or having to
drive all over town to find things.
Boo.com failed because of poor
business decisions and a web-site that
was not user-friendly.
No, I do not have to 'touch' everything I order. I do not order from places whose merchandise is unknown to me, though. I stick with the tried and true. Also ordering books, cd's, and the like, why would I need to touch?
If a company misrepresents their merchandise or their product, it is easy to return.
Boo.com's mistake was in simple marketing: a stupid name. Who can trust something called after a child's frightener?
In the absence of a global legal framework to regulate cyberspace activities, I am not overeager to e-tail.
I love browsing for online shopping but I never seem to buy anything as the prices are too expensive when you take into account exchange rates and postage and packaging.
Internet shopping is wonderful, just try it! Boo.com's mistake was in simple marketing: a stupid name. Who can trust something called after a child's frightener?
Having lived for three years in the US and used "e-tailers" there, all I can honestly say is that most of the European ones just don't get it.
The truth is most UK sites I've looked at are dreadfully designed They offer no discount, postage is expensive, and after dealing with US mail-order companies, I expect the correct goods, within the week. If there is a problem, I also expect total customer satisfaction.
In the US I bought books, CDs, hiking gear, computer parts, airline tickets and I never had a problem that was not resolved to my satisfaction. In the UK I just gave up, as the sites were slow, customer service dire, and it's cheaper and easier to just go to the high street.
Boo.com was ahead of its time and most people connecting from home could not even view the site because their connection was too slow. Shopping by internet can be a great experience, provided retailers give good customer service. The lesson to be learned from Boo.com is not that internet shopping is doomed, but that you can't keep on losing money indefinitely. The technology may be changing, but the old rules of economics still apply.
Consumer research has revealed that products which conform to sensory parameters like touch, feel, smell, taste etc have highest satisfaction level when the buyer actually experiences the sensory indicators. Hence e-line shopping may flourish for books, stocks, computers, etc.
Graeme Allison, UK
I work with computers all day, yet prefer not to buy online. I will only use if it offers me more convenience or a substantially better price.
Boo.com was a typical example of an over-hyped, over-priced and over-rated company which was doomed to failure through a lack of knowledge of its target market.
Buying online is the best way to shop as it offers all the choice without the hassle. Only those companies who keep it simple and offer consumers what they want, in a format they can access, will succeed.
My advice is be very careful. You are not at risk from hackers, but from companies themselves. I won't name names but I have had several experiences where I have been debited twice even three times when I have purchased just one item. Check your credit card bill very carefully. You may, like me, begin to wonder if the saving in purchase price is worth all the hassle which can be associated with internet shopping
I love shopping online and avoid shopping in person whenever possible, except for things where fit is especially important, like shoes. I love having everything delivered straight to our house - much easier than schlepping purchases inside while trying to carry the baby as well!
So many sites are new and offer excellent promotions, discounts, and free shipping, allowing the savvy shopper to get many items for free or at large discounts. Not to mention that here in the US, purchases made across state lines don't incur sales tax, saving 8.6% immediately.
I am convinced that this is the way of the future, and it's already a huge time-saver for our household.
19 May 00 | Business
Boo could rise anew
18 May 00 | Business
The future of e-tailing
17 Jan 00 | Business
Online shopping set to boom
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