In 2002, Shell Canada launched its online store called eStore for its customers. The objective was to keep costs low by having a self-service technology so that agricultural customers can buy their products without the need for a sales-representative. The statistics from eStore showed even though the number of customers who signed up for eStore was close to the target, number of customers who actually used eStore remained low. The problem seemed to be mainly due to customers having difficulty with the service. According to customer’s feedbacks, many encountered various technical problems when they tried to place orders. Others just preferred traditional methods of buying what they needed, while the remaining group were simply unaware of eStore. It is evident that the low number of purchases done through eStore is highly related to these issues particularly the technical issues in the website. If prompt actions are not taken to address these issues, Shell Canada would risk decreasing sales and even losing customers. After analyzing the situation and the company, it is determined that assembling a small team of experts to fix the technical issues of eStore and improve its user interface based on customers’ feedbacks is the best alternative. The implementation will take two months and then there will be a month of close monitoring period after the improved version of eStore is launched.
The main problem that Shell Canada needs to address here is low use of its online eStore. Finding the roots of this problem, three issues are identified: technical and user interface problems of the website, unawareness of Shell’s customers about the eStore, and customers’ preference to stick with traditional methods. As determined by the report from the consultant firm, RareMethod, technical issues and user interface problems are causing the low utilization of the eStore. They realized that customers who tried to sign up and potentially make purchases online encounter a few problems which made them reluctant to keep using the service. Some customers did not remember the link or just mistyped it while some had difficulty remembering their automatically generated passwords. Some user interface issues of the website include confusing login page, multiple applications available in the menu, and long delays in the process of placing orders. In addition, there were some issues related to back-end eBusiness system which resulted in confusing and irrelevant notification messages sent to customers. All this issues fall into the technical category and are ranked as the most important and the most urgent to address.
The second issue is related to customer’s adaptability to this self-serve system. Although the number of people who have signed up for eStore is high, the proportion that actually uses it to make purchases has stayed low since eStore was launched. This shows that many customers are reluctant to use this new service. They either preferred to deal with their local sales representative with whom have developed personal relationships or they found the already available phone/fax service more convenient than online store. This issue is ranked as high importance but low urgency since it requires long term plans to make customers adapt to this change.
Lastly, based on the feedback that Wright received from the customers, many were simply unaware of the existence of eStore. This issue implies the need to market this new service to current and potential customers. While marketing the website will increase the number of people who sign up for eStore, it may not increase the amount of online sales. Therefore, this issue is ranked as low importance and high urgency. Urgency \ ImportanceLowHigh
LowUnwillingness to use eStore
HighUnawareness of eStoreTechnical and user interface issues Table 1- Ranking of Issues
•Strong downstream presence