Sunday, January 09, 2011
Would You Buy an eBook Reader Off This Man?
When we saw the promotional billboard outside Waterstones store in Bath we thought we should see what the consumer experience would be.
We looked through ground floor but couldn’t see any ebook readers, so we looked at the store directory that had no reference to ebooks or ereaders. We went upstairs, we went outside to look if it said where they were, we went to the basement and again nothing. So we went to the ground floor and asked a staff member and was told, ‘They are over the other side to the left of the checkouts.’
The member of staff obviously was too busy to come with us on the short journey across the store but we proceeded by ourselves and found the stand. The area was some six foot wide with a top section with some POS display, a shelf with some five ereaders and a lower section full of accessories and boxed readers.
There were a number of customers hovering around, some curious and others waiting to be served on the checkouts, but there were no staff and the readers looked somewhat lost but were firmly secured to the shelf. Some people left and others came, but no staff appeared to want to proactively sell ereaders. We played with a couple of the devices but even these appeared not to want to perform. We were only feet away from the checkouts whose operators now having no customers to serve didn’t want to leave their counter to help. So we went to the staff member some feet away who was busy filling shelves and asked if someone could help and to his credit he said he could.
We won’t go through the questions asked and the answers given but there was no attempt to demonstrate the devices and the salesperson made some basic mistakes on simple questions and clearly knew something but not a lot. He did know that Amazon Kindle was different and the Sony reader was exclusive to Waterstones, but that was about it. The experience was not compelling and given our own knowledge was both misleading and a turn off.
To make sure our judgement was fair my wife tried again a bit later and this time she knew where the find them!.
A different salesperson offered help and said that the in-store experience was going to change with new online access. He pointed out that the store had an expert. but the expert appeared to be being more productively employed working on the tills. One of the devices batteries were flat, not a good representation of battery life. One device was out of stock so they had been told to even switch it off even though the billboard outside stated two we out of stock. The POS was not consistent and not all devices were even priced! On ebook pricing he said that there no VAT on books, but there is on ebooks and that because there is no transport or printing. ebooks would be cheaper and came up with a weird price point of £6.50!
Frankly, Waterstones staff may be passionate about books but don’t appear to be very passionate about ebooks and also out of their depth in being able to pro actively sell even five, sorry four, ereaders.