Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Volume 2, Number 25: The Case of the Unknown Supermarket Web Site

(Note: I originally posted this entry in early August 2007 to a blog I had created on Yahoo! GeoCities. Also, the addresses shown in this entry no longer work, which is why they are not hyperlinked; the URL for Ferndale Foods is http://www.ferndalefoods.net now.)

As I mentioned in a previous entry, there's a supermarket in Ferndale I would go to whenever they have a good sale going on--thing is, I don't know when they're having a good sale unless I get their weekly ad (which almost never happens). Now, a couple of years ago, they did put up their own web site (www.ferndalefoods.com), even though it said it was "under construction," because it meant that down the road, they might put their sale ads on said web site (which would mean never having to waste gas by driving down there just to get their weekly specials).

Periodically, during the past two years, I would check their web site, just to see the same page over and over--no useful links, not much more than a picture of the storefront. I would also send e-mails to the address at the bottom of the web page, but that would prove fruitless because I'd never get a response.

So last Saturday, after months of procrastinating, I finally sent a letter to the store asking them about the web site. Here's their response, which came in my mail today (along with a copy of this week's specials):

Dear Mr. Rabinowitz,

Regarding Your Letter:

We did not even know that Web page existed. We are working now to implement your comments.

Enclosed you will find next week's ad.

Thank You


Ferndale Foods

This floored me, and for two reasons:

  • One, they didn't even know they had a web site. I have never heard of that happening. Now, someone had to buy the rights to the domain name www.ferndalefoods.com, and someone had to build the web page. Maybe the store management was different in 2005, and when the store changed managers, the old manager failed to tell his/her successor about the web site. Another possibility is that an employee volunteered to build the site, but then lost interest due to leaving the company.
  • Two, apparently, nobody--no other customers, no employees, not even Ferndale residents--even knew that the site existed, much less cared about its lack of usefulness, except yours truly. You'd think more people would have been interested in the existence and condition of the web site, and for reasons why, I submit to you the letter I sent to Ferndale Foods on July 28:

July 28, 2007

To Whom It May Concern:

Your web site, www.ferndalefoods.com, has been "Under Construction" for more than two years now. I would have e-mailed you about this, but every time I send an e-mail to customercare@ferndalefoods.com, I get no response. It is frustrating to me for two reasons: One, despite living in south Royal Oak since 2000, I have seen your sale ad in my mail once, maybe twice, so the only way to get your sale ad is to drive to your location; two, your web site has so much potential to be useful to former Farmer Jack shoppers, as well as current Ferndale Foods shoppers, but instead it has remained absolutely useless.

It may interest you to know that just about every grocery store chain in metro Detroit--Meijer, Kroger, Hiller's, Farmer Jack (before it folded), Hollywood and even Oak Ridge--puts its weekly sale ads on its web site. While I realize that Spartan is not a chain, there are several Spartan franchisees that put their sale ads on their web sites, including VG's (www.vgsfood.com) and Busch's (www.buschs.com).

The reason is clear why they do so: With the economy in Michigan being what it is, people are more likely to buy items when they are at sale prices, and less likely when they're at regular prices. And if they have Internet access, they won't want to burn gas just to find out what is on sale.

I wonder, what is so hard about putting the week's specials on your web page every week? Presumably, your sale ads are created on a computer to begin with (and they look similar to the ads I see on VG's web site), so uploading them to your web site should be no trouble at all. Even if they're not available in electronic form, having someone create a simple HTML table that lists all the specials, and uploading that, is better than having no sale ad at all. I wonder why the creator of your web site hasn't done anything like that for two years.

In addition, your web site could offer information about what your supermarket offers that others don't. For example, Hiller's boasts that it has the best selection of international foods in Michigan. Two examples of items that I have seen at Ferndale Foods, but have not seen elsewhere, include pig's feet and beef tripe. These aren't the best examples, I know, but they're the first two I remember from previous visits to your store.

I would greatly appreciate it if someone could get started doing that.

Thank you.


Mark Rabinowitz

I would even volunteer my own time and resources, given the limited HTML experience I have. Also, like I said, uploading a sale ad to the site can't take much time at all. I just hope they meant what they said when they said they are working to get the web site working again.

Besides, they have nothing to lose.

No comments:

Post a Comment