If other bloggers republish this material, add to it and generally discuss it then eventually vendors will take note. Feel free to link here, copy wholesale or do whatever you like, no credit needed or expected. Just talk it up people!
I'm doing some product research right now and the stuff below is driving me firmly in the direction of one vendor, even though their products are 20% dearer than the competition. They may even be of equal or inferior quality BUT I CAN'T TELL because of the failings of other sites, many listed below.
So, that said, these are the top 10 things that annoy me as a customer (or POTENTIAL customer) when researching or buying wargaming products. Here we go then, in no particular order:
1. No product imagesIf you genuinely want to convince people to buy your stuff you need images of your products. As they say, a picture tells a thousand words. Images of most if not EVERY product and decent quality ones too. If you can manage thumbnails with large zoomable versions so much the better. In an age where many gamers buy from overseas it is a deal breaker as we can't just walk into a store. Even if we can, the majority do our research online.
2. No postage calculator or complicated postage costsAgain, in the age of the internet many of your customers will be online. Gamers spend endless hours costing out what an army will cost them. We save our shekels diligently. To have no idea how much it will cost to have stuff posted, or worse still get a real kick in the proverbials from "postage shock" is a
killer. And while we're at it, please be sensible with your postage rates (INCLUDING countries outside the US and Europe). Don't post at cost, not even on the cheap, just at a sensible rate. Some vendors DO offer 10-25% postage and do well out of it.
3. You must register!We all know you want to email us telling us about your next greatest endeavour. Many of us want to know too. Really we do! But making us register just to find out how much something would cost is not nice. We'll register when we want to, not when you demand it. Those of us who are really desperate will just fill up your database with junk regos to bypass the step anyway.
4. Odd numbered pack contentsWhy sell your products in packs of 5 for regular grunts and 6 for command (which often includes duplicates)? Nothing ever works out evenly when we build units and we end up buying more than we need. It feels like we're being gouged even if we aren't. Arguments like "it is more economical for us this way" simply don't ring true. Nobody believes it costs more to put men with stripes on their shoulders in the plastic bags. If you're selling 28mm+ miniatures then please don't sell them command in massive bags either. We don't need 50 command figs in one go unless we're power mad and then we'll happily buy 10 bags anyway.
5. No army dealsPeople love a deal, gamers especially. We eat them up. Many of us start a new project with a big order and we're more inclined to stretch a few shekels more if we can have some choice of what goes in the deal, or at least have ANY sort of deal as an option. Fixed deals are OK but often match a rule system
or ratio we're not using. The best deals are buy X number and get one free.
6. Nobody is listening when we ask questionsYou've got a contact us link, we got a friendly thank you when we filled in your form and then..... nothing. Silence. Nada. This is what PHONE COMPANIES do to us! Big nasty corporations do it, not real people who play games just like we do. Real people answer our sensible questions and in full, not just with a link and a "You can work it out for yourself here!" A genuine personal touch will go a long way to compensate for price differences, smaller ranges, etc.
7. No news page or lack of info on what is coming nextWhat's next? What are you doing development-wise? When can we expect to see the next big thing in a range? Tell us! Show us! Just a little peek and we'll keep coming back. We may even buy now knowing your range will be expanding to fulfil our plans.
8. No search optionThis might be OK if you only have a few dozen products or great menu structure. However, if you have hundreds of products then please give us something basic to search with. Just a keyword and maybe one or two classifications like scale or period. We'll be fine doing the rest for ourselves.
9. No link back to last catalogue pageWe've just navigated out way through 5 levels of menus, browsed to the 10th page of products and found what we want at last. All the products we need there on one screen. The we clicked on "Add to basket" and BOOM, we're back on the home page. Why? Why not back where we were automatically or at least give us a choice? How long will it take us to add a whole bunch of similar stuff to our basket now?
10. Poorly written or overly complicated T&CsLast but not least, please don't bury us in complicated, long winded text covering every eventuality including solar flares and melting ice caps. By all means protect your investment and cover against accidents, theft and the like but do it simply and clearly. Keeps your words in plain language and to the point.
So that's it. 10 things I hope don't seem unreasonable and which will make a world of difference to sales and customer satisfaction.