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The Perils Of Online Shopping   Leave a comment

Online ShoppingA good friend of ours is snake bit. That’s a technical term in sales for a person, that no matter what you try, always has a bad sales experience with a particular company.

Jill is snake bit by Amazon.com. No matter what she buys, no matter what delivery she chooses … it’s wrong. Snake bit.

I, on the other hand, love Amazon.com’s prime shipping. Buy practically anything on their site (which means, buy practically anything) and, with Amazon Prime, you’ll have that item in two days with “free” shipping. You actually pay something like $90 per year for that “free” shipping, but when you buy everything from there, it is worth it. IMHO.

Jill’s mileage may vary, after being snake bit so many times.

However, one item I don’t buy from Amazon – or from a regular brick and mortar store – is my breakfast food of choice. The only place to buy Post Cereal’s Great Grains Crunchy Pecan, uh, cereal, is Walmart.com, where you can buy a box for only $3.28. Amazon.com charges $5.86/box when you buy 7 (or $12.49/box when you buy two, or $8.50/box when you buy one. No, it doesn’t make sense).

So I buy my cereal at Walmart.com … except you can only buy 4 boxes at a time. And, to get free shipping, you have to have a minimum order of $50.

So, last night, Velda and I had to get creative with our purchase from Walmart.com to get a $50 order. We bought cat food, kitty litter and soap. And my maximum order of 4 boxes of cereal. $51 order = free shipping. Done.

Except Walmart.com told us we wouldn’t get the shipment until March 4. OK, no problem, I just won’t have breakfast cereal for a week.

And then they delivered the entire order TODAY, in less than 24 hours. After telling me that delivery would take 8 days, it took less than 1. And they didn’t even tell me that the shipment would be here sooner! They just got it here earlier than promised and expected me to be happy about it.

I’m not. I’m frustrated that they can’t control their inventory. I’m frustrated that they won’t let me buy the quantity of cereal that I want. I am just plain frustrated with Walmart, so I’ve apparently joined a pretty big club.

I also went online shopping this week at HomeDepot.com, because Mrs M’s Handmade needed LED light bulbs for our new booth lighting. I wanted a color temperature of 5000 degrees (“daylight”), so I chose a specific bulb … and I needed 12 of them. I elected to shop at home, pick up in the store so I could get the bulbs when the lights arrived. This is the first time I’ve done this shop online/pick up in-store with Home Depot.

What happened? The merchandise was exactly as ordered, and picked up within 30′ of the front entrance of this big box store (wow, that’s great!). The only negative was the clerk that processed the transaction didn’t see a need to bag the 12 light bulbs … she just handed me the display units with the 12 lights mounted on cards and stuck in slots, and thought she was done.

Well, OK, then. I guess she was.

What’s it all mean? No clue, but as of now, I don’t think anyone is getting online shopping right all of the time. And that’s a big frustration, because I’d really be OK if I never walked into another store again.

 

Posted February 26, 2015 by henrymowry in Living Life

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The Power of Engaging   4 comments

A great story.  A social media lesson.  And a wonderful novel.

It’s tempting to say this is a triumph of new media.  And it is … but it’s really a triumph of a very good book.  That’s not a new media story — that’s a classic story.  Good products win; good marketing only helps them win faster.  And such is the case here.

Hugh Howey has successfully created a community that loves his writing.  That is not done easily, and he has done it independently.

He was a part-time writer and book store employee struggling to find his way.  He wrote a novella called Wool, which began to find an audience.  He marketed it as a e-book on Amazon.com.  As people began to find it, they became invested in his success.

They encouraged him to keep writing.  He published more parts of the Wool story.  Remember, this sort of episodic publishing is not new — authors have serialized their stories since soon after the printing press was published.

His readers volunteered to help with proof reading, and they helped correct Wool’s errors.

They submitted cover artwork.

Hugh Howey lives in Florida,.  He is still a fiercely independent author in the US, though Wool will be coming out in hardback in 2013, from Random House UK.

And he kept writing.  Howey recently gathered the first 5 Wool “books” into a single omnibus edition which is what I read.  It’s a fabulous book, and worth your time.  The movie rights to Wool were just sold to Sir Ridley Scott.  You’ve seen his stuff:  Thelma & Louise.  Alien.  Blade Runner.  Gladiator.  And he’s the executive producer of the best show on CBS:  “The Good Wife.”  Here’s hoping he can do something wonderful with Wool!

Today, some established authors have decried the lack of quality found among the independent authors that are self-publishing.  Sue Grafton famously talked about the “wannabes” of independent publishing in this article published in August.  It’s illuminating to note a few facts comparing Grafton’s latest novel, V is for Vengeance, with Howey’s Wool Omnibus.

V:  343 Amazon reviews averaging a 4.1 rating.  $14.99 for the kindle edition.

Wool:  1,908 Amazon reviews averaging a 4.8 rating.  $1.99 for the kindle edition TODAY … it’s Today’s Daily Deal!

I’ve read much of Grafton’s alphabet series; I have enjoyed following Kinsey Millhone, her private investigator that lives in the fictional southern California city of Santa Teresa.  I certainly appreciate the professional presentation of her traditionally published novels.  Who doesn’t appreciate good proof reading?  On the other hand, even her deep catalog on the kindle is still $5.99 each.  It seems traditional publishers expect readers to pay for that proof reading.  Handsomely.

Howey has succeeded in tapping into his audience in a way that old-school authors like the 72-year old Grafton just can’t emulate.  Check out my favorite part of Howey’s website, his chart of how many words he’s written for each of his ongoing projects.  His readers know exactly where he is and what he’s working on.

But back to Wool.

Great opening line:  “The children were playing while Holston climbed to his death; he could hear them squealing as only happy children do.”

Life has gotten very small in this post-apocalyptic story.  The exterior world is deadly; the living world is limited to the inside of a giant buried silo that holds everyone and everything.  The only view of the exterior world is limited by the cleanliness of the sensors mounted above ground at the top of the structure.  When a silo resident goes outside to clean those sensors, they die.

How did people get into this situation?  Why can’t they get out of it?  What IS out there?

Read the book.  You need to read this book.  Buy it today for your kindle; only $1.99 on Amazon.com!

Me, I just bought Wool 6, which is a prequel.  And since Wool 7 is already 60% done … can’t wait!

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