Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Adding Value

I went to get new business cards from VistaPrint today. There are lots of choices and it took longer than I expected. I almost bailed out from the choices, but I had an issue recently with mine.
I needed to get some books sent back to my house, so I wrote out my address, printed labels, and then I handed out a business card at a trade show to a shipper. I got a call later asking if I was sending things to the Florida address. That threw me until I remembered the company used to be in Florida. I corrected them, but it made me realize my business cards were woefully out of date.
And I just realized that despite my quick design, they're still out of date. I got the main brand on there, but forgot one of the others. Oh well, after the holidays I'll get my artist working on a new one.
In any case, I started as I always do with a quick Google search and picked Vistaprint, who was the first result, I've used them before, and they had a special on the front page, $3.99 for 250 cards. That's more than I need, and so I opted to go over there.
After working through the designs, I ended up clicking "checkout" and they showed me what I saved with their special, however the total was $22, which surprised me. I'd opted for some labels, but those were around $5. I didn't think a lot of it, moved on, and on the next page I saw shipping at $14, which all of a sudden made me rethink things.
A couple interesting observations on the process.

Things I like:

From a business standpoint, I thought VistaPrint did a good job upselling me. They presented a number of options at each point of the selling process. An example below:


A few times I missed the red upsells, but that was my rush, and it could result in more sales for them.

They added additional, related products, with my customized logo. Here’s a couple they had:


There were many more, probably 3 or 4 pages worth of goods and services, including Google Adwords and a website, which made sense. This is a good time to add value for a customer, and since people probably don’t get business cards too often, the extra annoyance probably doesn’t hurt too much.

Things I Didn’t Like

There were a few things that I think bordered on sneaky or unethical. This might seem like a great deal:


but when I go to checkout on the next step, I see this:


Nowhere in the process was I ever informed of shipping costs (I went back and looked) and to offer me a deal of $4 for cards, but check $10 for shipping, something I might overlook, seems a little sneaky and disingenuous. I feel a bit like this is a markup on a service that makes no sense. A package like this should cost about $2-3 to ship, and even doubling that for handling doesn’t get me to $10.

It’s about managing their Q and I’m sure you’re paying for priority on the presses, but they present this as a shipping item, which seems a bit unethical. In the order for color cards, which I did the first time, the cost for Standard was over $13.

I checked a few other places and their prices aren’t too far off from what you might pay elsewhere, but the presentation is different. They make me think like I’m getting a deal, I’m not, and then I feel a bit deceived. If I plan to pay $20 for cards from somewhere else, I’m happy. Here I planned to pay $10 and feel ripped off when I end up with $20 of charges.

Lessons for Business

More and more people are becoming more informed shoppers. The average person that might hit your site has likely ordered something from Amazon or another online retailer and so they know what to expect with shipping.

While I like up-selling and convenience, deceiving people likely won’t pay off in the long run. People will move on to other businesses.

The exception might be if you have a niche like Vistaprint and you don’t look for a ton of repeat business. I likely wont’ go there again and will look for other companies to service my needs.

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