A Tale of Two E-Commerce Sites


How to Do E-Commerce Right

So, it's the end of 2007, and I've decided it's time to do a little hardware shopping for the office. I snagged a great deal at a local store on a triple-interface external hard disk with USB 2.0, FireWire 400, and eSATA ports. It's my first eSATA hard disk, but (like most folks) none of my PCs have eSATA ports.

After a bit of research, I decide the best way to add an eSATA port is to use a converter cable that plugs into an internal SATA port and provides eSATA ports via an empty slot on the rear of the case. Newegg's got a dual-port bracket for $3.19. I duly order it, and to avoid the spectacle of paying more for shipping than for the item, I add a couple of cakeboxes of Verbatim DataLifePlus printable media (CD-R and DVD+R).

Newegg fires off a series of detailed emails, the first within moments of my order, providing complete details of what I ordered, along with UPS tracking information after the order shipped. They delivered the goods - and they're good! Here's the detail from my first Newegg email:

There's no doubt about what I ordered.

How Many E-Commerce Mistakes Can a Company Make? Start Counting

I also needed to replace my sadly outdated Photoshop 7 with an upgrade to Photoshop CS3. Since I switched to a Canon Rebel XTi digital SLR this summer, and later switched to shooting 100% RAW files, a lot of my DSLR friends have been singing the praises of Adobe Lightroom.

Adobe's been offering a combo special - $75 off when you order Adobe Photoshop Elements CS3 with Adobe Lightroom. I'm a Windows user (that's why I write this blog!), so I ordered - or tried to order, at least - Windows versions of both. I also received an email from Adobe confirming my order. Here's the order detail:

Compared to Newegg's order detail, 'detail' is exactly what's missing from this order. What platform (Mac or Windows) did I order? Did I order the full or upgrade versions? I can't tell. Can Adobe?

What else was missing? Well, Adobe promised to send me an email with the package tracking information. They didn't. The only way I found out that Adobe had even sent my order was to battle through its cumbersome online customer service website earlier today and click the shopping cart (as if I was planning to make another order) before I could display a detailed summary of my order...only to discover that Adobe says I ordered the Mac version. Noooo!

Unhappy Customer, Unsatisfactory Options

I've gotten a couple of different versions from Adobe of what to do when I receive the wrong software (which won't arrive until Monday, even though I placed my order two days before my Newegg order). In version 1, I'll have the joy of digging up every serial number I've ever had for Adobe Photoshop to get a cross-shipment of the correct version. In Version 2, I get a refund right away, but need to reorder the product. I'm not sure which is worse, so I'll be hitting the ibuprofen and acetaminophen bottles to cure a headache first.

Here's to Learning How to Do E-Commerce Right

So, here's a few New Year's resolutions for Adobe, and any other technology company that does direct selling:

  1. Make sure your 'thanks for your order' message makes it really clear what was ordered. Sometimes customers make a mistake, and sometimes you do. Either way, there's an opportunity to fix the problem before it goes out the door. Amazon.com does it, Newegg does it, so why can't Adobe?
  2. Follow through on your commitments to keep the customer informed. If I had received timely, detailed information on my order, I could have corrected it before it was shipped. As it was, Adobe never informed me of anything - I had to dig through their site for it - and by the time I found it, I couldn't fix the mistake in the order.
  3. If you can't do e-commerce right, hire somebody else to do it for you. I bought the Photoshop CS3/Lightroom bundle from Adobe because I couldn't get it anywhere else. I'd rather have made my purchase from Newegg, Amazon.com, or other vendors who know how to do e-commerce right. It wouldn't be difficult for Adobe (or other vendors whose e-commerce sites are lame) to team up with companies that do this for a living.

I'm hoping Adobe makes it as easy as possible for me to get the right version of CS3 - but I'm hoping even more that they decide to stop playing around with e-commerce and do it right.

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