Local News

Many Businesses Try to Adapt to E-Commerce

Posted December 20, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST

— Stuck in traffic -- fighting over a parking space -- poor customer service; It's enough to make you say "Bah Humbug." That's why more and more people are shopping online this holiday season.

Electronic commerce is still new, and businesses are still trying to adapt.

It is easy to find places to shop online, but it is harder to find a specific item, and sometimes the online store is full.

One Web site,800.com, posts a request for patience during the holiday. Their site was jammed by a three-for-one offer.

Cosmetic Counter posts its customer service phone number, a good thing to look for at any site.

Raleigh's Geldof Chocolatier uses its Web site to show off its popular sweets, and it works for them.

"We just took a couple of orders off the site this very morning. So we do see an increase in activity whether it's orders or not around holiday times," said Gene Lay of Geldof Chocolatier.

Lots of companies offer chocolate, so Geldof tries to keep its site updated.

"A Web site with erroneous information or out of date information is far worse than having no presence at all, because it gives you the look of not knowing what you're doing," explained Lay.

After messing up on an online order,Technology Reporter Tom Lawrencecontacted the company by E-mail and in a couple of hours his account was credited with a refund.

That's the kind of customer service some online shoppers are missing. Lay says customer service is no problem at Geldof, but the Web is new to everyone.

"I think we're all learning exactly what a Web site can do and what it can't do and how to make it an aide to your customers instead of a hindrance," said Lay.

It's a fact there are some problems with customer service at some online shopping sites. However most sites will work with you, because they know online shopping is a big part of the future.