I heard about Flight001.com from a show on TV. They were showing some of their products, and the products struck me as quite useful.
Essentially, it is a website that sells products for people who travel a lot. They carry items such as electronic plug converters and neck pillows for long flights on to items such as moist towels and carry-on bags.
At first, I thought that this was a great idea, and that I could buy a lot of these products. So I browsed around the website thinking that it had a horrible design and was very bad in terms of trying to find the actual product that you want. But its ok, I thought, maybe it was a growing company that didn’t have a lot of money to spend on its e-commerce store. So after I had selected the items that I wanted, I wanted to checkout. So I registered with the website for my shipping address and billing address. I had to continue this process another day because I had some missing information that they requested during the checkout process and I had to get it. The next day when I came back to finish the checkout and actually buy the products, it wouldn’t let me log back in(saying something about the password being wrong, although I had them send me the password). And when I tried to re-register using the same email address, it complained that I was using a duplicate email address.
So being a good netizen, I reported the problem on the website and asked them to see what was the issue since this is stopping my purchase. Needless to say, I have not heard from them since(and this was over a month ago)
There are many examples on the Internet on how not to run an online business(or any business in fact). And this is one of them. Not only did Flight001 lose my business on that purchase, they have lost me as a customer.
What really annoyed me was not that there were errors on the website. Since that is always a possibility even in the best applications. It is the fact that they never replied to me even though I used their contact system on their website to report the problem. It is as though my money was not important to them. Nor the fact that I have a lot of friends and contacts that would follow my recommendation for this website.
The complete opposite of this business model(i.e. not caring about making money, nor any kind of customer service) is that of Amazon.com. Amazon has won me over as a customer for life because of their superb customer service. And I have been purchasing products from them for the past 6 years.
In fact, I was so impressed with their business model(oh, and I am staying up-to-date with their financial statements) that I use it as my own business model in the world of software development and I will continue to use it in any future business.
Amazon has not invented anything new, it is an old known fact that customers will pay a premium price for good service but it is the fact that they cling to it so viciously while the rest of the companies forget about it while they grow simply amazes me.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder, is a very clever man. I have learned a lot of my current business skills from example.
When I was in college, I did a paper on Amazon discussing its business model and doing some finance related research. Back then, it had over 22 million customers. Lebanon has a population of 4 million. You do the math.