The dregs of e-commerce

Posted September 26, 2008 in research, web  |  1 Comment so far’m currently carrying out some research into open-source e-commerce platforms. The research is at a pretty early stage and I’m still putting together the list of packages that we’ll then go on to assess in detail.

While putting this short-list together I’m visiting quite a lot of ‘showcase’ sites for each package on my long-list. And sheesh, some of them are bad.

I don’t mean “bad” in the sense of bad user experience design, even though it’s fair to say that many of them are guilty of that. I mean “bad” in that the products themselves are bad, some of them really bad.

It’s a consequence, I suppose, of the barriers to entry for e-commerce being so low these days. In fact, my preliminary exploration of open source e-commerce options has established that they’re even lower than I’d assumed them to be.

For example, I’ve come across an Australian site that sells t-shirts saying “The first rule about Kite Club is never talk about Kite Club”. Erk. It reminds me of a t-shirt I saw in Paris once, which I still think of as the worst t-shirt I’ve ever seen. It said, “the first rule about computer club is that you don’t talk about computer club”.

But aside from bad t-shirt slogans, of which there are plenty, the biggest culprits are the numerous arts’n’crafts retailers.

Before the internet, a lot of this stuff – the results of amateur pottery classes and the like – would have just been given to relatives or left to accumulate in cupboards and boxes. But now, the arguments against creating an online retail site for these efforts get weaker all the time as e-commerce gets easier. And it seems as though there’s a market out there for a lot of this twee, throwaway kind of stuff. That’s the “long tail” for you, I guess!

However critical I might sound in this post, though, I should point out that I’m not advocating the eradication of such sites from the internet. I’m just noting my vague fascination with this underbelly of online retail that I hadn’t really explored until today.

1 comment so far.  Post a comment

  1. Dr Love
    October 7, 2008 at 11:21 pm [ Permalink

    haha, kite club, i think thats quite funny.

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