Business, Food, Society

Just Browsing?

English: Four retailers, Newport Road, Cardiff...

English: Four retailers, Newport Road, Cardiff Located on the west side of Newport Road, close to the Colchester Avenue junction are Topps Tiles (their banner states “Britain’s biggest tile and wood flooring specialist” Halfords Currys PC World. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like looking round a real-world shop and if I can get something I want from somewhere that I can look at it first then I’ll often be happy to pay a few quid more for it – as well as being able to get that instant gratification feeling of having a new shiny thing straight away.  Sometimes you find something you didn’t know you wanted.  Some things we can buy based on a picture and a specification, somethings are more subjective, they need to be inspected closely, handled to see if they will fit into our life, or indeed hand – as in the case of my recent mobile phone.

The trouble is that so often that thing you see in front of you is cheaper online, and maybe it is worth waiting a few days to save money, so you go home and order it instead – I’ve heard of people using apps on their smartphones to order things while they’re still in the shop even.  I admit I did this when I bought my current phone but only because I had built up a small cash-back to use if I bought it online direct from the network.

Understandably high street retailers are not happy about this and it has even been cited as contributing to the failure of some big-name stores recently – added costs of bricks-and-mortar stores being named specifically as the reason they can’t match online prices.  Yes people need to save money these days but if we abandon local shops altogether our town centres are going to be awfully quiet.

To fight back some retailers let you buy online for collection in store, getting a web-exclusive price into the bargain, Currys PC World for example, which will tempt some away from Amazon et al with the carrot of convenience while some remaining retailers are either trying to match online prices to gain volume sales instead or emphasising the added-value of personal service, which is certainly a benefit to specialist retailers like camera stores where knowledgable staff are invaluable.  Choice, availability, service and a reasonable price are what high-street stores need to emphasise.

One specialist food store in Australia though has taken the same route as supermarkets have done with parking, to discourage people who visit but not buy anything (and then go online) they charge $5 entry which is refunded when you buy something.  Which is quite a carrot, appropriately enough.

Society, Tech, Uncategorized

Mobile Etiquette – Retail Staff Are Real People Too

Interior Market Decor | Market Decor Design | ...

Interior Market Decor | Market Decor Design | Interior Co-Op Signage | Co-Op Check stand | Grocery Checkout Area | North Coast Co-Op (Photo credit: I-5 Design & Manufacture)

There is a habit going round at the moment that I find particularly rude, as do many others, especially people who work in shops, bars and restaurants.  I don’t know whether it’s more noticeable now because more people have mobiles or because people are becoming more ignorant but the habit is of talking on your mobile while being served and either expecting the assistant/waiter/waitress to wait or just ignoring them like they’re insignificant and not worthy of your full attention.

It happens to me regularly, a customer comes in and I’m entering their order and their phone rings “hold on, be with you in a sec” they say – but to me, not to the person phoning them.  If it really is someone they can’t call back and they explain this and apologise then that’s fine, I’ll wait, go and do something else or make a cup of tea; often there is actually time to make and drink the tea before they’re back with you.  But when they just carry on talking while gesturing at you, waving a credit card and then taking their invoice and leaving while still talking on the phone it makes you feel like you don’t matter.

I was in the supermarket a few months back and the man in the queue ahead of me did this, he didn’t say one word to the assistant on the till, not “hello”, not “thank you” just talking on his phone and as I could hear the conversation clearly, as could half the store and probably people sat in the car park beneath the store, I could tell it wasn’t that important a call.  When he’d gone I said to the assistant “I hate it when people do that”, she let out a sigh and visibly relaxed saying “me too, it really annoys me” clearly relieved that someone understood how she was feeling.

Gizmodo UK recently published a piece about posters created by cartoonist Ted Slampyak highlighting other no-nos to remember, like keeping the volume down, using appropriate ringtones and not avoiding difficult conversations by texting – which is a whole other issue by itself.  One commenter who worked in a restaurant told how he had taken revenge on such an ignorant diner by firstly not going over to take the order until the man put his phone down and then pulling his own phone out and having a fake conversation while taking the order.

Now please excuse me, I have a text.

[Gizmodo UK]

Business, Society, Tech

The Internet Isn’t Free (of Charge)

Credit Card

Credit Card (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

We take it for granted today, we sit down, fire up a browser on our computer, tablet or phone, load up our favourite news site, tech blog, webcomic or whatever and for most of these we don’t have to have ever entered any credit card details – unlike buying a magazine or newspaper.

And then many people complain about adverts and install ad blockers without considering one important thing; without the ads the website wouldn’t be there, or you’d have to pay for it yourself.  The other problem with this expectation of no-cost browsing is that sites like Wikipedia which don’t have ads still have to pay for servers, offices and the staff who look after the site despite having an army of volunteers but don’t receive enough donations to keep going.

This blog is provided ostensibly free of charge via WordPress but has adverts (visible to non users) which I have never seen myself but have been reliably informed are there, I couldn’t justify paying for the ad-free version at the moment.  I personally only block adverts on other sites I visit that cause problems with my browser as I appreciate that ads are a necessary part of our free and open internet, just as regular users of donation-based sites aught to donate.

Someone once said there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and for the moment this one’s no exception.

[How Much Would You Pay For a Wikipedia Subscription]

Business, Marketing, Music, Society

But It’s a Bargain

The volume rocker of the Amazon Kindle 2

The volume rocker of the Amazon Kindle 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve just noticed on that the top five kindle books at the moment are all priced between £0.20 and £0.99.  Is this a coincidence or is it the same reason I also bought the number one book (besides it being a QI book) – only 20p, I’m having that!

I’m sure they’re all good books but it also shows that almost giving content away can give a book, or music, momentum in the sales charts.  It’s only really been possible thanks to digital media’s lower distribution costs and the benefit is that once people have tried it they’ll tell others about it and maybe they’ll still buy it even if it’s at a higher price later.

The music industry needs to pay attention.  It isn’t devaluing, it’s marketing.