James Royal-Lawson


Why (Swedish) companies are lost on the web

Jim Carlberg, Planner at advertising agency Pool was quoted in the Swedish publication Internet World in an article about why Swedish companies are lost and confused on the internet.

Jim had made some good points, especially his closing words – it’s about identifying customers needs and finding some genuine business advantage.

Here’s a translation of what Jim said:

“The fact is that the web is still a bit of an unknown territory for many companies. That they haven’t decided what to do can be a combination of insecure buyers and offensive sellers. Companies have many, persistent, suppliers who demand their attention: ‘You have to do this, you have to do that’.

As the web is in a state of constant development, companies crank up their budgets for next year, as next year there’ll be newer and even more impressive things, things that, as yet, no-one knows how they should be used. Many companies probably try to buy themselves out of the situation instead of actually submersing themselves in the subject and considering what goals they have for their web-investment. At the end of the day, it’s about identifying customers needs and finding some genuine business advantage.”

Buying online – a survey of Swedish consumers

The Swedish Consumer Agency (Konsumentverket) has published a report (in Swedish) into the experiences and attitudes of Swedish consumers with regard to using the Internet as part of their information gathering process for products and services.

“The development of the Internet has led to new possibilities for consumers. With help of the Internet it is possible to search for information about products and services, compare prices, and in a whole new way explore a range of offerings not limited to local shops”

Sweden is the second most connected country in the world. Scandinavia is often at the forefront of online-innovation. With that in mind, this report could signal future trends for many other countries.

The report shows how searching for information via search engines is the most important activity in online consumer behaviour – the information they are looking for isn’t always the manufacturer’s or service provider’s website.

During February and March 2009, 1500 random Swedes, both men and women, in the age group 18-85 were interviewed by telephone. The report contains a huge amount of fascinating information, but below follows a summary of some of the findings.

More than 50% of consumers use the Internet weekly, or even more frequently, for finding information regarding products or services.

two-thirds of respondents had the card of bank-services that were required for purchasing online.

28% said they didn’t know how Internet-shopping worked. A third also gave that as a reason for not purchasing online. Of the 28% who never searched online, 76% were over 60 years old.

two-thirds of respondents claimed that convenience was a major reason for purchasing online. Almost as many said that speed or delivery, price and broad selection were major reasons.

11% had difficulty sometimes seeing or reading what was published on websites.

90% of respondents had used a search engine to find information about products and services. This was the most common answer. The next most common search method, with 73%, was to visit the online store or company directly.

85% were searching for prices. 80% product specifications. 52% searched for reviews from someone who had used the product.

Of those who had made an online purchase, 46% had done so at some point from a non-Swedish company’s website.

Aha, so you eat several times a day – perhaps you should be a chef?

Karin Lindström in an article in Computer Sweden Äter du – vill du bli kock? (Swedish) takes a swing at the sterotype that if you use a computer, you must be interested in technology and the presumption that more Facebook using, tweeting, text-message sending “youngsters” should be following an education path that leads to a career in computers.
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Taking care of RSS readers

DN, a national newspaper here in Sweden, have just launched their new site. They have managed to make quite a notable mistake, but one which is not uncommon. All of their existing RSS feeds have changed location. This in itself is not a mistake. Their mistake lies in not redirecting the old feed locations to the new ones. This would be a bad enough mistake for any URI, but RSS readers visit your site via your RSS feed – breaking the RSS feed cuts the link between your site and your reader.

Screenshot of a DN 404 pageThe launch of DN’s website was announced to me via a “feed not responding” message in my news aggregator, Netvibes. I had to visit the site and manually find new feeds for all the old ones I had saved. Some people may not bother.

You need to take care of your readers, no matter how they come into contact with your content.

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