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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Speed Over Perfection... in an effort to make the product better?



I just spent a few minutes reading the last comments of my blog post dated Tuesday, March 8.
Thank you for the information. Am I surprised? No. I will accept that those actions are my reward for playing nice with Alex, and that the post created such a dramatic response carries its own message forward.

The unicorn thing was childish. If you visit http://www.facebook.com/oshunspiritstore there are some endearing comments posted about it. After over 900 hits, there is not one comment which supports the business model of degrading your customers. If it was meant to reflect poorly on me, it fell short.

But yesterday's news is today's fish wrapper. Today's news is that Bonanza emphasizes speed over perfection in an effort to make the product better. I can't let it go. They sent it to me. It is the answer to the question I asked time and time again. Thank you!

I will direct you to:
http://oshunspirit.blogspot.com/2010/07/bonanzlecom-launches-two-new-games.html

In Bill Harding's own words, he felt that I was "regularly being at odds with our prioritization. "Our" being Bonanzle Management's, and indeed that was true for him. What was true for me is that I wanted to understand why "selling" was not the priority of an e-commerce marketplace.

As a Premier member (in fact I was one of the first Premiere supporters, and I was first to sign up as a member of the BAC, first to hold a chat/auction on Bonanzle, yes I had a vested interest in the sites success) I had access to google analytics which I also had on my website oshunspirit.net, a mirror of the Bonanzle booth to which I directed my .com. Comparing apples to apples, the Bonanzle conversion rates were way, way off, month after month. I might add, I left ebay as a powerseller, so I hadn't just fallen off the turnip truck.

I had many customers emailing that they couldn't check out, and intuitively I knew there had to be even more that were having similar issues that I was not hearing about. So, because I was on Bonanzle to do business, a functional checkout system was a priority. I  admit it.

And I cared, not just for me, but because people were suffering. Really suffering, because of it.

Does anyone remember poor Razmear? I tried for 3 weeks to buy multiple items, a wholesale lot, from him and we finally completed the sale off site because he needed that money to keep his electricity on. Such sacrifices to personal financial stability were not unheard of... early adapters that stopped selling on ebay and had no other means would have starved had it not been for the goodwill of other members. I bought a lot of stuff I didn't need because I could. A great community, a bad business plan. Take the emotional component out and you've got dumb.

In April 09, after they introduced Bizzy, the rude robotic personal assistant, I begged that their next project might be to address the barriers to sales and our inability to complete sales on site rather than add further embarrassment to what was already an increasingly embarrassing situation – that is, constantly apologizing for customer's inconvenience. I got a really snarky answer, something about how hip and professional can go hand in hand.

My skin prickled and I knew there was a disconnect. Maybe generational, maybe deeper...

When Bonanzle added widgets instead of addressing the issues, I asked again. When they added syndication and affiliates, I asked again. When they added Twitter and Facebook integration, one more time I expressed that spamming the social networks would do little for the bottom line if the incoming buyers could not navigate the site. Games came and went, handpicked lists became a favorite pass time and then there was a constant stream of booth do-overs  to incorporate site upgrades which often upset the apple cart. Lots of busy work to do, games to play, chatty features to ensure stickiness. Of sellers, not buyers.

I couldn't get a buyer to stick, not with widgets, not with Bonanzas, or coupons, or anything else. And I'm sharp.

All the while my website converted (even as I literally ignored it) and Bonanzle did not. Yes, I kept asking for functionality. And I received three answers in perpetual rotation:  I had "it" set up incorrectly, my customers were doing it wrong, or I needed to clear my cache.

No, I was not the only one. I am one of many whose voices were silenced for speaking out and questioning the site's prioritization, asking for clarification. But I suppose I was an influencer of sorts and I call it like I see it. And I usually see very clearly. In fact, my predictions about Bonanza run with 100% accuracy. I'm sure someone will testify to that.

In July of '10 I finally put my booth on hold and wrote the blog,  http://oshunspirit.blogspot.com/2010/07/bonanzlecom-launches-two-new-games.html. Bill said he was sorry to see me go.

What? I said I wasn't going anywhere, that I would wait for functionality and a return on my investment...

In hindsight I understand that was not what he was hoping to hear.

"They" offered to do a detailed analysis of my booth if I offered it up as a test case. From July 19 - Sept 1 my booth was closed while "they" worked on it to find solutions. I "lost" my images, attributes, traits, shipping, and prices. I was shocked, I thought it was all about the checkout, cart, and shipping profiles. I let them know my booth was GONE, that the fixes were generating unrelated glitches. I received emails that did not address the points made. Over and over again. Then I got it. Oops.

Trashed, not fixed. 

I posted in the forum about my experiences, just the facts, backed up by emails, and bmails, and I was censored til 2015. I examined my experience on my blog. Those who responded and shared similar stories were hunted down, suspended, and invited to leave as well..

Well, that's just nasty business no matter how you spin it.

On September 9, management announced that they had " fixed full page new item form zeroing out international shipping that was set as "see description" or "calculated" and fixed shipping profiles not being applied to new items on full page new item form. But there were still problems...

The real problem: They didn't know how to fix the problems.

Then, just a few months ago, Bonanza with a team of new programmers in place, renovated their checkout system because their research showed it needed simplification and buyers were having problems. Bada-bing!

Several weeks ago Bonanza merchants were all over the social networking sites frantic, livid, remarking about the ongoing site functionality issues. They received three answers in perpetual rotation: They had "it" set up incorrectly, their customers were making errors, or they needed to clear their caches. I've been there, done that, I have a point of view...

I wrote a blog. And here you are.

I now sport a Unicorn as an avatar, my booths sport red x's where they once were. And they will say to you through my example, "you may be next."

And I will say to you, may you be blessed!

From Alex' response: "We openly acknowledge that there are, from time to time, bugs on the site as we endeavor to quickly enhance the product. We do emphasize speed over perfection in an effort to make the product better." Speed over perfection... if haste compromises functionality,  many are left wondering how a product gets better.

13 comments:

  1. I put this in one of my comments to one of your other blogs but want to repeat it

    >>>emphasize speed over perfection in an effort to make the product better<<<<

    whenever I got in a hurry as a kid, my grandmother had a saying "more haste less speed, you will spend more time fixing your mistakes than if you would have taken time to do it in the first place"

    she was right and I thank her for a lesson well learned.. cause if I rushed it did take me longer in the long run

    and why would you not take the time to make a product as perfect as possible..nothing is ever perfect .. but most of us teach our kids to do the best they can... not to do a rushed half ass job

    an amazing business philosophy .. I'm floored

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  2. Thank you Susan, that was eyeopening to say the least. I came to Bonanza later than some and didn't have the full background of your problems with them. I don't know what to say, I am sorry you were treated so badly and wonder who/what is next. It just seems so petty and mean spirited for men running a business to treat someone that way.

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  3. I just wanna say I "like" Pugs' and Ginger's comments - agree all of them and I'm with Patti - BRAVO as always Oshun. Truth is hard to cover with kitty litter when the "cat" is out of the bag... any time anywhere in anyway - I got your back. My Mother would call you a righteous babe - she would be right on...

    Debra - aka jamiro

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  4. Oh, I've been selling online for a long time and I have a thick skin. How they treated me is not important, it is in the past.

    But imagine saying to your customers, "I rush stuff rather than do it right".

    I just cannot imagine it. That is the reality of today, how they are treating their current customers, in their own words.

    The past pales.

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  5. Virginia Morgan-BurrMarch 18, 2011 at 7:42 AM

    Susan, thanks for the insight...while window dressing with toys on any site may be an eye catcher, functionality of any web mission should always prevail.

    My folks always said "haste makes waste" - "do it right the first time".

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  6. So, if you sell on Bonanza you can count on a steady stream of shoddy features in the future, and the downtime and do-overs that accompany such a business philosophy. Good luck with that.

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  7. Susan...I have said this before... your light shines so brightly in the darkness that it might be scarey for some.

    Out of all the replies that could have been given "We do emphasize speed over perfection" was choosen.

    Keep shining your light on the world.
    Marla

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  8. I agree with Patti. Bravo!

    I cannot imagine why any business would make a statement like that. I can see that was as well thought out as many of their upgrades and additions have been. Could this possibly be why they roll out changes with glitches before they test them thoroughly?

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  9. Thank you Marla, you touched my heart!

    And thank you AvocadoLane for your post. Yes, it appears that the objective is to roll out features in rapid fire, even if they have no value or detract from existing value. Bonz sellers can just suck it up and work it out for them, or leave. There is a name for that.

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  10. I use to be on the cheering squad, telling everyone how wonderful the Support team was at Bonanza. Until this past year it was good, now well it is not what it was.
    Try to get a straight answer from them now....
    I've brought up questions about their improvements and additions to the site that were skipped over as if they had not been asked.

    While the site is growing in members by leaps and bounds right now, at some point they will see what many of us have already seen. Only time will tell if this site will succeed with the direction they are heading.

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  11. Thank you Alilbirdy for your post. I see this morning that once again sellers cannot add shipping to invoices. http://www.bonanza.com/forums/9/topics/156503?page=1#posts-2199231

    This is the very issue which I tried to champion a solution for, for years. It doesn't matter how pretty a HPL is or what's in your widget, if you've published a coupon or discounted your product to death in a Rush... or even if your listings are compliant with the latest round of google changes, etc if you cant get your customer thru checkout.

    ReplyDelete