Dear Gunstore: Update your website.


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Panzercat
February 22, 2012, 12:23 PM
Okay, so you've obviously decided that being on the web is a good thing because, hey, you've got a website. You ponied up for the domain name and the hosting, so you're commited to some degree. Or maybe you're just riding the internet fad thinking it will eventually go away. Either way, more visibility is a good thing. Slap some pictures of your inventory up there and call it a day, right?

WRONG.

First of all, if you ever use a font larger than 14 again i will come over to your house and personally shoot your keyboard. If it has any sort of florescent colors added to it, I'll add insult to injury and shoot it with my hi-point. I won't even use a respectable fire arm. Maybe I'll just employ a sling shot. Or acid. Your text does NOT need to flash, nor do you need an animate gif of a low rez siren light to indicate where the deals are at.

Just stop already.

And I see you put your email address up there for contact information. Great! Now it's about time you start answering it, because nothing says 'online presence' like a black hole of communication. And while we're at it, can you not imbed your address into a image? Ever hear of copy and pasting? We here on the internet like to do things like that for, oh, I dunno... Google Maps? Because its KINDA HARD TO DO THAT FROM A .JPG.

Wait, you've heard of Google, right?

While you're there, hit up some some other websites. Note the organization and use of space? Like how they're not abusing the use of frames or trapping users in drop down menu mazes? This isn't hard and it doesn't require a few thousand dollars. It does take a little attention to detail. Now I understand that you don't do this for a living, but you're the one who chose to step out into the interwebs. At least try and do so competently because right now it looks like your website was designed by a five year old who hasn't quite grasped the simple use of tables and margins, or hell, even thumbnails to help your site load faster instead of spamming the full up images of your stock in a giant column of scrolling fail.

And hey, if you could occasionally update your inventory from time to time, that would be swell too.

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SharkHat
February 22, 2012, 12:24 PM
How about one that doesn't actually feature any pictures of their active inventory, just pictures of all current models for popular brands. Because they can order it....

Panzercat
February 22, 2012, 12:28 PM
How about one that doesn't actually feature any pictures of their active inventory, just pictures of all current models for popular brands. Because they can order it....
"Call for availability" :banghead:

CoRoMo
February 22, 2012, 12:28 PM
I can't stand the use of the "word" 'interweb'.

SG1
February 22, 2012, 12:39 PM
I agree that dealer websites should be updated (daily if nothing else) to reflect current "in store" inventory. This may take additional resources, but if you're running a web site and especially if you're big into internet sales, then you should find a way to reflect your current inventory.

More than a few times I've driven to gun stores who advertise items "in store" only to get there and find out they've been sold out for a month. The usual response is, "our web page doesn't get updated very regularly".

On the flip side of that coin, I recently checked the web page of a store about 20 miles from me that has turned into a successful online sales store. The store is small, and locally owned/operated, but very popular. The website showed a hot selling item and stated it was available in-store and I was worried I'd get there and it wouldn't be there. To my surprise, the item was there (only 1) and I happily made my purchase. Later that day I was curious as to whether the website had been updated and sure enough, the item was no longer listed as being in store. I'm not sure if their computer checkout system also updates the inventory on the website, but I was impressed that they seem to be current on what they have in-store and in warehouse.

beatledog7
February 22, 2012, 10:24 PM
Modern inventory control software can provide real-time updates, and with the really good on-line stores, it does. It just takes a desire on the part of the owner of the business to make it happen.

Shops that want to have on an-line presence should, IMHO, either keep their inventory current or admit up front that it isn't and won't ever be. That way, shoppers know what they're dealing with.

Statureman
February 22, 2012, 10:34 PM
Great Rant. In today's day and age I don't get how you can have an excuse for a site like you describe.

medalguy
February 22, 2012, 11:05 PM
It's just laziness on the part of the owner. Same thing as when you want to look at a gun in the case and they won't take it out to let you examine it. Hey, are we really interested in making sales or not?

N003k
February 22, 2012, 11:11 PM
I agree pretty much fully with what you said op.

I never got the point of a static sight that never was updated, the most it could offer over the basic google search of the places name would be the hours, and even then, most places don't even post those.

It's all nice and good to have a website, but, what good does it do me the customer if all I can see are a few 5 year old pictures of what you had in stock then, and your name and location? Seriously? :banghead:

Geneseo1911
February 23, 2012, 12:15 AM
Frankly, I'd be happy with name, hours, and a picture of what the building looks like. Seems like most gun shops think they are being progressive if they have a yellow pages (remember those?) ad.

Too bad the people we need to reach.....probably aren't reading THR.....

Saakee
February 23, 2012, 12:19 AM
Embedding emails as images is to circumvent spam. What's better is a contact page: Fill out info then hit send on page and wait

edit: Effing typos. Embedding, not Imbedding. i should be in bed. . . .

ArfinGreebly
February 23, 2012, 12:24 AM
I've been to that store.

Their "web site" was basically a billboard, and a cheesy billboard at that.

There was a phone number, a street address, and an email address.

Two of those worked.

For email, "yeah, we have email, but it's always full of spam, so we don't use it." Because your email address was actually in text on the page, easily harvested by crawlers. Make the street address text, make the email address an image. You've got it backwards. Nobody will spam your postal mailbox.

The front page told you about their fabulous inventory (thousands of guns), and all you had to do to see it was drive over there. There was a grainy snapshot of the store's interior showing rows and rows of rifles, and well stocked glass counters of pistols. Just exactly the way it looked five years ago. Or six.

Yeah, I know that store.

I don't know where your store is, but mine was in Nevada.

That store sure gets around.

Telekinesis
February 23, 2012, 01:07 AM
I completely agree with this thread. Gun shop employees: please let the owners know about this kinda stuff!

Nearly all of the gun shops in my area use the same theory of creating their website. They plaster a really busy background on, and then proceed to fill every bit of space over that picture with a box of random text or an image that has nothing to do with finding their inventory, location, or telephone number!

And its just my luck that the one place that has a decent website can't seem to complete a simple order of a pistol. Ordered a gun last week and they told me it would be here in 4 days, now its several days late and not only is the gun not there (completely forgivable) but they don't even have a record of the order or an idea of if any guns are coming in at all! That'll teach me to pay cash in advance :banghead: How they expect me to trust them with a transfer of a Title 2 weapon when they can't even keep track of an order for a Title 1 weapon I have no idea...

Ragnar Danneskjold
February 23, 2012, 01:20 AM
I think that if you made a Venn diagram of gun shop owners and employees, and people who are well versed in web-design(both aesthetic and technically) there would be little overlap. Not only do gun store owners not really have the technical knowledge to write and maintain a good website on a daily basis, but most also lack the knowledge of the aesthetic possibilities that a website could offer. Most gun store websites look like they were written in 2000 and haven't been updated since. Frames? Little "Under Construction" GIFs?

Either they have someone on staff who writes it, but it stops getting updated when they leave. Or they hired a company to make it, and never had it updated after that. And your typical 60 year old gun store salesman is not going to go home at night, log onto his Linux box and update the inventory databases. Nor will he be writing much CSS while in between installing night sights for customers or calling in NICS checks.

Besides the technical ability to code a modern site, there is a whole realm of design from a usability standpoint. What colors to use, what layouts work best, how to draw the human eye naturally to important parts. People get degrees in just that stuff. I doubt many gun shop owners are wb design gurus.

The shame is, you don't even really need to know that much if you are aware of the tools out there these days. There are enough templates and online builders that can make a decent site. The creator just has to know where to look, and have the perseverance to keep it up to date. Both with actual real time info, and in regards to evolving web technology.

ArfinGreebly
February 23, 2012, 02:59 AM
You know, I would be willing to bet actual cash that there are some Web savvy gun lovers out there who would be happy to maintain a gun store's web site for the firearms equivalent of "tea and cakes."

Just chuck me a rifle or pistol now and then; I'm yer guy.

I'll come by, photograph the inventory, maintain the database, answer the email.

If I do a good job, and people order from the site, and you can convert that effort to profits, I can be paid in hardware and ammo.

I'm really a cheap date.

:D

JohnBT
February 23, 2012, 08:20 AM
I suppose some people are never happy. The internet will never be completely up to date. Accept it.

John

chicharrones
February 23, 2012, 08:26 AM
Yep and it costs money and time to get it done. Whether paying an employee to do it, or pay someone else. Unless the gun store is going to fully commit to online sales, they should just stick to the "billboard" style with updates about once per month.

I think that if you made a Venn diagram of gun shop owners and employees, and people who are well versed in web-design(both aesthetic and technically) there would be little overlap. Not only do gun store owners not really have the technical knowledge to write and maintain a good website on a daily basis, but most also lack the knowledge of the aesthetic possibilities that a website could offer. Most gun store websites look like they were written in 2000 and haven't been updated since. Frames? Little "Under Construction" GIFs?

Either they have someone on staff who writes it, but it stops getting updated when they leave. Or they hired a company to make it, and never had it updated after that. And your typical 60 year old gun store salesman is not going to go home at night, log onto his Linux box and update the inventory databases. Nor will he be writing much CSS while in between installing night sights for customers or calling in NICS checks.

Besides the technical ability to code a modern site, there is a whole realm of design from a usability standpoint. What colors to use, what layouts work best, how to draw the human eye naturally to important parts. People get degrees in just that stuff. I doubt many gun shop owners are wb design gurus.

The shame is, you don't even really need to know that much if you are aware of the tools out there these days. There are enough templates and online builders that can make a decent site. The creator just has to know where to look, and have the perseverance to keep it up to date. Both with actual real time info, and in regards to evolving web technology.

chicharrones
February 23, 2012, 08:29 AM
I'd like a side job like that too. If I only had the time. :cool:

You know, I would be willing to bet actual cash that there are some Web savvy gun lovers out there who would be happy to maintain a gun store's web site for the firearms equivalent of "tea and cakes."

Just chuck me a rifle or pistol now and then; I'm yer guy.

I'll come by, photograph the inventory, maintain the database, answer the email.

If I do a good job, and people order from the site, and you can convert that effort to profits, I can be paid in hardware and ammo.

I'm really a cheap date.

:D

youngda9
February 23, 2012, 08:39 AM
OH my, what a rant. Why do people come here to vent so much. Take it up with the webmaster or the store you have issue with.

TLDR

robMaine
February 23, 2012, 08:45 AM
You know, I would be willing to bet actual cash that there are some Web savvy gun lovers out there who would be happy to maintain a gun store's web site for the firearms equivalent of "tea and cakes."

Just chuck me a rifle or pistol now and then; I'm yer guy.

I'll come by, photograph the inventory, maintain the database, answer the email.

If I do a good job, and people order from the site, and you can convert that effort to profits, I can be paid in hardware and ammo.

I'm really a cheap date.

:D


I have discussed this with a few local shops, I am a software developer and have been considering putting together a web-based CMS/Inventory Management system to provide to shops, I would work for trade. Some seem a little interested, now I just need to find the time.

rbernie
February 23, 2012, 10:41 AM
It's just laziness on the part of the owner. I know a lot of older shops who do not have an automated inventory system (and I know of one shop that does not even have an automated AR/AP/GL). At least, in defense of these shops, the web site is a billboard presence and is not intended to be a revenue generating presence.

N003k
February 23, 2012, 10:45 AM
I don't think anyone here wants them fully up to date, or mind if they updated it once a month...

I think most of us are talking about the sites that look like they were designed at least 5 years ago, put up, and forgotten about, without a single update to any of the information.

It's even worse when they half attempted to make it an online store front, so you see some of the things they had in stock, all those years ago, that they obviously don't have anymore.

jrdolall
February 23, 2012, 10:55 AM
Marks Outdoors in Birmingham has a pretty good webite and the inventory on used guns is updated immediately. You can enter info on a gun you want and they will email you when it becomes available. Most of these small stores just do it because they felt for some reason that it was necessary and then got their daughter to handle it and she got bored so there it sits.

mdauben
February 23, 2012, 10:59 AM
I suppose some people are never happy. The internet will never be completely up to date. Accept it.
There's a difference between "sold that earlier today and the website isn't updated yet" and "sold that 6 months ago and the website isn't updated yet". If the shop wants to list their inventory on line, they need to make a commitment to keep it at least reasonably current.

There's nothing wrong with a simple internet presence website. Name, address, phone and (if you are willing to respond) and email address. Maybe a photo or two of the shop. However, if you want an "active" website (on-line store, inventory lists, sale ads) you need to make a commitment to keeping all that stuff as up to date as possible.

Dnaltrop
February 23, 2012, 11:34 AM
A lot of "working" gun guys aren't really computer guys.

I talked with the Calico rep about the theoretical .40S&W versions at the last gun show, he was talking about working hard just to keep up with orders for the 9mm's alone, and not having enough time to work on the .40 for now.

They've had the ".40 Coming in 2010" page up for long enough to confirm they don't really spend time on the net, they're back there in the shop getting their hands dirty, rather than their keyboards.

Panzercat
February 23, 2012, 01:24 PM
I don't think anyone here wants them fully up to date, or mind if they updated it once a month...

I think most of us are talking about the sites that look like they were designed at least 5 years ago, put up, and forgotten about, without a single update to any of the information.

It's even worse when they half attempted to make it an online store front, so you see some of the things they had in stock, all those years ago, that they obviously don't have anymore.
Pretty much this.

I'll tell you a story. It's about my wife. She works at a nameless, privately owned specialty wood company. The owner- a really nice guy btw -had one of these websites; an affront retail sales and humanity. He was making money, certainly, but the website was... How to put this politely... suck and fail. He was smart enough, however, to hire on an executive secretary part time, who did know something about this sort of thing.

My wife doesn't know html. She doesn't go home at night and code in a Unix labrinth. She doesn't program databases for a living. Godaddy, however, does, because they provide pretty much everything the aspiring store owner needs to create and manage a competent looking storefront and inventory that can be updated in real time with minimal of effort. She set up a facebook account for him. Twitter. Regular email bulletines. Sure, it cost him a bit more on the front end, but you know what?

She tripled his profit by the next year.

Which is why I have no sympathy for these guys and their inability to put forth the time or effort- or simply hire some college kid part time -to do it for them. Your unprofessional website makes me wonder what else is unprofessional about your business, though I tend to give most gun sales websites a saving throw because this condition is so rampant. But it doesn't need to be.

If you're going to do it, do it right. Or find somebody to do it right, because not doing it right gives you the online presence of Hillbilly Bob's Fish and Axle Repair Shack just outside that town with one stoplight and a water tower while Roscoe and Cletus wave 'hi!' somewhere in the background.

Zach S
February 23, 2012, 01:31 PM
How about one that doesn't actually feature any pictures of their active inventory, just pictures of all current models for popular brands. Because they can order it....
Maybe...

I've asked about the same pistol at a LGS three times, across couple of months, but they cant get it. I asked about a similar, more expensive model, twice, but they cant get it either. But, they told me that if I find either one online, they'll be happy to do a transfer.

I found it online. They don't accept transfers from the large online retailer that I purchased it from, which is probably the locally owned/operated storefront mentioned by SG1...

mgmorden
February 23, 2012, 04:22 PM
I suppose some people are never happy. The internet will never be completely up to date. Accept it.

There's no reason that need be true, and as an IT guy/software developer myself, any shop that feels like hiring me can be sure their stuff will be completely up to date on their site :).

With modern barcoding and inventory control driven by a background database, there's no reason why an item shouldn't INSTANTLY (ok, I'll allow a few thousandths of a second ;)) show up in inventory when its scanned and instantly be removed when purchased.

Computers have made this type of thing easy, and its what the modern shopper expects. Good shops will do this.

k-frame
February 24, 2012, 12:18 AM
A lot of "working" gun guys aren't really computer guys.

True, but they are running a business and the website may be their first (and last) presence to the public. Even static sites can be attractive, informative and well-designed and not require many or frequent updates, although a weekly refresh is a good thing to keep people coming back. It really doesn't take much.

Better yet are stores that utilize Facebook and / or have targeted email campaigns. Or use QR codes in printed ads for specials or discounts or simply to attract consumers.

One of our local shops is very good at sending emails on specials. They don't send many, maybe two or three a month, but those emails get read. Another nearby store...is trying to figure it out and I've never heard from them. Guess which one gets most of my business? (In fairness the "high-tech" shop is new and owned by people who seem to be very business savvy. The other shop is more of a classic gun store - a little gritty around the edges.)

If you enjoyed reading about "Dear Gunstore: Update your website." here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!