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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need some advise from the local reefers .
This most likely wont apply to the Atlanta hobbyists , but I'm sure you can speak for the hobbyists nation wide.
One of the many new services CBA will be starting next month is "what you see is what you get" live rock for sale over the web.( we will call it "Live Rock Deli")
We will be showing our hundreds of clams and Acros as well , but its this live rock idea that has me kinda stumpted.
As many of you may have noticed we have been bringing in a few really different types of rock. Many of these rock types are not represented on the web at all.We are excited about these new selections and have several other new types on the way.. We think they would sell well on the web.
Our new "Live Rock Deli" will be kinda like a real sandwich deli, Customers will be able to mix and match the rock order to their choosing.(something you dont get to do much on the web)
On normal days , customers will be able to see photos of sets of mixed live rock peices from around the world.Sample boxes ( like : one branch , one slab , one cultured , one Fiji ,one Austrailian, one Bali, etc.)each box lot layed out as a sample set of rocks. That way customers can sample various rock types with out having to purchse entire 35 pound boxes of a single rock type.
Now here's the catch,
One day a week we will have what were going to call "Live Rock Deli".
Customers can call the store while veiwing live webcams of the inside of the store and see our staff (real time).hold peices of live rock up to the webcams.( a real virtual fishstore)
All the technical stuff works out fine, Web cam image quality , camera angles etc.
The issue is how can we limit each customer to a reasonable number of peices held up for them to view?
Whats a nice way to ask the customer on the phone to please not have me hold up each and every rock in the bins (400 peices plus)?
Kinda "aqua ward" ;)




Thanks for your input. Jeff (not the bobby)
 

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Live Rock Nazi...NO ROCK FOR YOU!!!
 

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Skimmer and Reactor
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Make them prepay for the rock, then they can choose the pieces they want. Have a bunch of sample photos that accurately represent the rock you have. Here's how I would suggest doing it:

Step 1. Customers purchase a package from the photos.
Step 2. Then choose whether to cherry pick from the Live Rock Deli or get Live Rock Surprise.
Step 3. Live Rock Deli customers do the webcam dealy to select their actual pieces. / Live Rock Surprise customers get a box with rock hand selected by Chef Bobby.

At least that way you already are guaranteed the money instead of having a bunch of people going through the hassle of the web cam procedure. The only downside to that is the weight of the pieces figuring in correctly with what they paid for.
 

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Jeff, have you tested this over the slower breed of internet connection like 128K or Dial-up?

Other than that, no matter how nice you are, someone will get torqued about not seeing what they wanted or what they thought they'd see. Then again, if a customer is buying 300# of rock and picking pieces as you go, you're probably more inclined to keep showing more than for a customer that's said "no, not that one" to every piece you've shown him so far.

My only suggestion would be to limit it to a time frame "officially" and use that as a fallback to deal with people who just want to see if they can get you to pick up every piece of rock in your store.

EDIT:
Ok, I lied. I have another suggestion (which you may or may not have thought of): Get some bright white material (like maybe starboard) and cut it into ruler-like pieces (maybe 2 feet long) and mark them in inch increments with lettering large enough to be read over the webcam. That would speed up the process of "how big is that piece?" since it's hard to guage even when held by a person. Or perhaps a star board cutting board surface marked similarly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the input,
The senerio would be this:
The customer on the phone is mid way through the selection process.
But at this point he or she is getting a little demanding and having me hold up multiple pieces of branch rock.
I have three people on hold waiting to get their turn at the Deli.
every time the current customer asks to see an alternet peice of rock , the customers on hold screem at their computor ....( Anyone viewing the website will be able to see the live action at the Live rock Deli, not just the current customer) If its your turn next ,your on hold , but can see the current action and the guy ahead of you is taking too long picking out peices..........whats a polite response which would remind the current customer that there are 4 others waiting and yes your $250 dollar order is important to CBA , but we have to ballance the time spent with each customer.
See inside the store , it has been our experience that customers dont like to be told that their turn is over ........and we need to help the next peson now.
I see the same pickle about to raise its awkward head with this online gig.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
GeorgeW said:
Jeff, have you tested this over the slower breed of internet connection like 128K or Dial-up?



EDIT:
Yes, the software will adjust to a lower bandwith. (frame rate)
That dial up customer would see fewer frames per second but the resolution would still be intact.
( but were not requiring customers to use the virtual services, people can still click on the add to cart button "live rock 40 pound premium" just like any other etail store. without ever realy knowing what going to be sent;))
but what fun would that be?:thumbup:
 

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What about a "deli" schedule? (Sort of like a Dr's appointment... but without the hour long wait AFTER your appointment)
Assign "x" number of minutes per appointment (based on order size)

The only problem I would see with this is generating a lengthy waiting list. (maybe have appointments from 10-2 then first call, first served from 2-4)
 

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I like the appoinitment idea. But, you can also limit it by order size.... if you order 50# of LR, you get 15 minutes, 100# 30 minutes, etc... Or have multiple streams that you can take 2 customers at once...that might help, but could also cause twice the backlog.

No customer on hold is patient!

I love the idea! Good luck with it.
 

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Appointments + multiple camera streams(or at least the capacity to add more if appointments run over) = success and minimum of PO-ed customers, I think.

It's a cool idea. As a software developer, I'm curious to see it in action from buyer and in-store perspective.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks again for the help.
The multi camera idea will be a reality.
There will be twelve or so cameras pointing at Clams , Acros and such.
But what I cant duplicate is the Live rock Deli itself. The Deli is a row of 12 forty gallon breeders each with a different rock type.
It would really be a one man show due to the tight working area.(but it might alow a second sales man)
What about a clock timer?
First come first serve, but when its your turn the count down begins.
There would be a visible clock with one webcam feed.
As the time ran down I could gently remind the customer that the alotted time is almost up.
Would you as a customer be upset if I told you that your time is up and I need to get to the next person waiting in line?
 

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This sounds like a cool idea, but I'm not sure how I feel about the timer. If I were a customer on the web cam, I might feel pressured to rush through my decision if I see a clock in the corner with my time counting down. Also, you can't put too many employees on the live rock deli because then you might neglect the customers that actually come in the store.

I think it would be easier to say, "we have about 15 minutes to pick your rock before I need to move to the next customer." Then remind them as their time is almost up. Even if you don't have another customer waiting, it will help limit those that can't make a decision. I just think a timer is a bit too regimented..might discourage people from being repeat shoppers. Kinda goes along with the appointment idea. Gives people a window of time without holding the clock in front of them. Just a thought.

Chad
 

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I think a regular scheduled webcast showing exactly what's available ie large or show pieces have a number on them, and then people can call in and or order the pieces they want. Then they can see their order have it weighed and then pay for it. This would require several webcams and multiple phone lines.

The individual customer idea sounds like a bottle neck with a lengthy waiting line.

Cheers
Mike
 

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Honestly, I think taking 'good' pictures of liverock, especially tasty pieces, would work great. All I have ever seen is a picture of a tonga rock, then you just order by the pound. Meaning, you dont get to see the actual tonga pieces, just what tonga looks like. You guys could take pictures of the actual rocks, label them, or even group them in $50 dollar bunches and place them in a tank within dividers to keep them grouped. If someone wants to get a 'better' look, they can.

So Id be looking at your site with the idea that I like Rocks A-3 and Rocks B-9, and would ask you guys to hold these up for me.

The customer then has at least a vague idea of what they want and you guys could limit yourself by saying something like, we will display up to 3 groups over the phone.

Good Luck!

Dustin
 

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Also, what is the probability that tons of people will be calling at any given moment to have you hold up liverock. Seems to me that it might be more of a random thing once or twice a day. Then again, I don't know the statistics on how many people buy liverock every day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The rock Deli is suited for beginning hobbyists nation wide who need some extra attention with deciding which rock is best for them.
Its a service that lets beginners in Montana who don't have an LFS near by to sample ten types of rock without having to buy ten boxes of rock.
While I hold up rocks I can explain what makes one rock type different then another and how to build a reef structure that will allows water circulation, nice attachment points for the corals , etc.
Its the one on one personal attention that I think new hobbyists might like.
Thats the whole idea behind the on the phone as we hold up rocks approach.
For experienced hobbyists looking for some nice rock showpieces to add to their established tank, all they need is the WYSIWYG photos without the hand holding.
The Rock Deli is just one of my new ideas, WYSIWYG video of fish eating and pairs of clowns and fairy wrasses in short video clips is another of my "first" on the web ideas.


Many of the new web services even local hobbyists should be able to take advantage of.
It also should translate into you local peeps having an even greater selection of live stock as we do more volume.
Its going to be some fun stuff, that should change the expectations about buying over the web.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Were actualy kinda low on rock right now, so dont come in to see Live rock Deli this week. ( We do currently have the largest selection of Maxima clams in the USA though) Maybe Clam Deli?
 
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