Im trying my best to restart the high-tech economy, but it looks as if high tech will have to start its own engine. When Barnes & Noble added its earnings warning to those of the pack of companies moaning about a slow fourth quarter, it reminded me of the Barnes & Noble gift card I got for Christmas. I figured for sure my $25 was all that would be needed to reignite the worldwide economy. After clicking onto the Barnes & Noble Web site (not on company time, boss) and finding some sufficiently obscure, nontech titles, I was all set to take my shopping cart to the checkout counter and stand back as NASDAQ was revived off the floor.
However, my order and the return to economic good times were stymied by the sites and the phone supports inability to process the card for online purchases. Despite the cards claim that it is "the gift of choice, good toward anything at Barnes & Noble," the card works only in the physical world, I was told.
Would my $25 really have gotten the economy moving again? I doubt it, and, in any case, the folks at Barnes & Noble already have the money until I can drive to one of those mega-bookstores, which I cant stand. Of course, at that mega-store, I will have to wait a week or two for my back-ordered, obscure titles to arrive.
The lesson here reminds me of the rules given to dot-com retailers before they evaporated and to the brick-and-mortar crowd before they started their chest thumping over the dot-com shakeout. Play the role of the customer on your Web site or a supplier or buyer on your business-to-business exchange before you tell the world you are digitally enabled.
You can blame the economy, you can blame the venture capitalists, and you can blame the politicians for using the recession word. But if you cant tie your system together to make it as easy to do business on the Web as in person, you have only yourself to blame when sales falter. And that is my $25 worth.