Today, TechCrunch called out some numbers from the folks over at JiWire that quantify how far people are willing to travel to get higher levels of discounts. Wait – people will travel further for bigger discounts? No way!

Kidding aside… first, this overly simplified take on the data makes me think a lot of people way undervalue their time. 40 percent of respondents will travel up to an hour for a 40% discount on a $100 item? People – haven’t you heard of Woot?

Second, while the implications of this are pretty obvious for location-based promotions, I’d love to see some data that tells the story of how much “work” people will do in exchange for incentives online. How many friends’ email addresses will Joe sell out share in exchange for more vegetables for their virtual farm? How many completely irrelevant offers will Franklin click on to build up points for a gift card? How many times will Susie refresh a page to get a free sample worth less than a buck? What are the incentives required to get engaged users of your product to enthusiastically tell their friends?

I ran a promo in late 2010 where a beauty product that’s normally $89 was offered on an extremely high profile national TV show for just $10. The resulting traffic to the website was roughly 500 times average. The site slowed to a crawl, and would-be customers had difficulty purchasing. One of the most amazing things about this offer was the number of people who complained angrily via Facebook and the more traditional customer service channels that they’d been “refreshing for ten hours” to make the purchase. Important feedback, and very helpful in understanding the level of emotional investment in the product, but the time investment people were willing to give up was way higher than I’d have suspected. The vocal folks in this case were a small minority compared to the overall sales, and I think it’s important to not place too much value on the anecdotal information. Still, ten hours of refreshing to save $79 on a non-essential cosmetic product?

Does this mean they're sending me an iPad? As I’ve mentioned before, I subscribe to a lot of emails. Marketing research and all that. Wading through my “lists” inbox tonight, I noticed that the Costco has a Kensington iPad case with a built-in battery. Now, I don’t even have an iPad, but Angelica does, and I reckon with its already amazing battery life and the extra five hours this thing claims to provide, the iPad oughtta last us through the next nuclear winter, at least. And, it’s got a freakin’ kickstand, which according to that annoying animated billboard on the Oakland side of the Bay Bridge is a REALLY BIG DEAL.

So I click through, and what to my wondering eyes should appear? A free iPad from Costco!

Ok, it doesn’t actually say I get a free iPad, but it does say “iPod not included,” which I’m assuming is intended to clarify (for the non Tech Crunch readers) that you get an iPad, not an iPod.

AWESOME. Placing my order now.

While working at SkinStore, I became a bit of a manly skin care product whore. OK, so maybe “whore” is a bit too strong, but I do have a small set of products I like and stick to pretty religiously. One of these is Razor Burn Repair by Anthony Logistics For Men, basically a post-shave moisturizer – very soothing. I have very sensitive skin, and this stuff works wonders.

I usually order from SkinStore, but I’ve been actively ordering directly from brand websites lately, to get a feel for the experiences they offer and see what they’re up to. So I ordered some Razor Burn Repair directly from Anthony.com on 9.21.10.

I like the Anthony website – I think it does a decent job of infusing the experience with founder Anthony’s personality without being ridiculous.  But I got a surprise when I reached the checkout flow. Shipping was expensive – $9.11 for a single four ounce bottle! I really felt like that was excessive and almost bailed out, but I bit the bullet so I could check out the customer experience.

Photo of order from Anthony.com - they sent me their waste!

Come on, guys - For $9.11 in shipping I shouldn't have to handle your trash for you!

I got the package 8 days later. Not cool, considering lots of sites ship for less and get me my goods much faster. Even worse, Anthony uses old style peanuts – messy and not biodegradable, and the product was wrapped in a bubble wrap bag. And while I appreciate the personal touch of a packer’s signature on the inside of the box, presumably verifying correct products, I’m surprised and bemused that they decided to send me the garbage my order generated too.

All kidding aside, this kind of thoughtless, wasteful packing and shipping always bothers me, enough to discourage me from ordering again. It’s far too prevalent in the ecommerce world.  And Anthony could do a better job of optimizing shipping costs and time.

Written on September 30th, 2010 , eCommerce, eCommerce Reviews Tags: , , ,

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Surj's House of Awesome

Surj Gish – eCommerce & Online Marketing Expert / Gearhead / Musician