Letter from the boss – who has been looking for stock again - in Spain this time. (odd place for laboratory glass?)
Travel, the internet, web shops and the future of mankind.
Here at LabwareHouse we have the ongoing challenges presented by our ever increasing shop size conflicting with our prime objective to keep the shop simple to use. I have been thinking about this issue whilst on a work trip in Spain. Using Airbnb and a smartphone I can travel off the tourist routes, meet locals and experience the wonders of old bedsprings, cold water and various other eccentricities that Airbnb hosts consider homely. However last week I somehow logged out of the Airbnb app and then no matter what I tried I could not log back in. The details don't really matter but I went from loving to hating the Airbnb app in an hour of frustration - I finally gave in and used Booking.com - which does not have the same requirement to prove you are who you say you are.
My point is this – while no doubt I lack competence using smartphone apps - we shouldn’t really expect our clients to be geeks. Internet technology should in theory make life easier and provide free time – (at least that is how it was sold to us) but as functionality increases so does complexity which leads to errors and frustrations especially when the company does not fix our problem quickly. As the designers and managers of web shops we must always remind ourselves clients can go elsewhere at the click of a button, our job is not only to provide on line shopping but also to make the experience easy and stress-free.
An example of the issues we wrangle with is the overall philosophy of how we present the technical data. We provide data at each level of category, sub category and product but now this architecture is undermined, to a degree, by the current trend for shoppers to find products by keyword search rather than by clicking down from the front-page categories. This does create some issues for us providing the required data without making the shop too complex. I recommend at LabwareHouse, if you wish to compare all product options, then you should click down into the products rather than use the search button.
So finally on this topic – when we fail in our attempts to make your shopping harmonious stress free and a truly wonderful experience – please don’t click off to another shop – vent your anger either by email or if you have one – lift the phone and tell us your problems ( at least the LabwareHouse ones). We do have a real old fashioned Homo sapien answering our phone (unbelievable I know) and we do like to hear from you and know your thoughts. Whilst we are human we will do our best to solve the issue and to give feedback on the resolution.
Now a more interesting topic - from my recent trip through Southern Spain - after being amazed by thousands of windmills, we saw another type of renewable energy plant out in the blistering heat – we googled it and discovered the Andasol solar power station. “Andasol is the first parabolic trough power plant in Europe” and it provides power for around 600,000 people. ( seems a lot but that is what Whikapedia seems to be saying - please if anyone knows the truth let me know ) Ref Wikapedia. The parabolic trough system uses mirrors to focus sunlight and then stores the heat in concentrated salt solutions. From the stored heat the system produces electricity even at night. Clever idea in a country with excess sunshine, clear air and few cloudy days - storing the energy in salt overcomes the issue that the sun only shines in the daytime - and no conventional batteries are needed! So there is hope for mankind after oil – maybe we can hide a couple of these behind those unused hills in Otago?
Sale items this month:
The boss is up to something again – he’s up on the warehouse roof with a measuring tape – muttering about sunshine hours, northern aspect angles, parabolic troughs, mirrors and salt. So apparently we are selling a lot of stock over the next few months. Sale items so far includes beakers, pipettes, pH papers, thermometers and lots more will go on through the month. He says we are not stopping selling off stock until he has money in the bank for his project on the roof – so keep an eye out for some big price reductions (and some very large mirrors ).