The virtues of e-commerce are now extolled in every newspaper or magazine that passes my glazed eye. Marketing Week (November 25) announced that Channel 5 is devoting a whole evening to the Internet, which being sponsored, is bound to attempt to seduce more consumers to try shopping online.
It sounds too good to be true. Now that shopping on Sundays has become old hat, we can now stop off at the virtual shops on our catatonic stagger between the TV (digital of course) and bed. I know – I’ve done it.
And then we get the notes through the door, advising us that some cowboy carrier failed to deliver our copy of Internet Shopping for Beginners, Blur’s Greatest Hit or Taiwanese knitwear, because astonishingly, we were out during the day. How surprising that people actually need to put in a few hours at the office to support their blossoming e-commerce habit.
Telephone the number on the card to arrange a new delivery time and the disembodied voice from cyberspace patronisingly offers to deliver it again at the same time the following day; as if the entire population works alternate days. Tentatively suggest that they might actually deliver your purchase at a time when you are at home and you will be met with scathing incredulity.
Distribution is the weak link in the e-commerce value chain. The company that can provide a quality service at an affordable price will own the golden key to the electronic worldwide high street.
Royal National Lifeboat Institution