How Online Ceramics Keeps Its Cool
By Megan Schieck
Photographs by the author
I didn’t order a ceramic pot with a round handle or a decorative vase in a metal frame. Instead, I saw a large, beautiful vase on the floor in a trendy ceramic shop in downtown Berkeley and ordered it online.
In the course of researching my book about online ceramics, I discovered that I am one of thousands of people who place orders online and pick them up in person.
But the majority of these online orders are placed by individuals who are not professional online sellers who might not have the time or financial assets to keep track of their orders or to make sure people receive their new products in time for Christmas or to fulfill an important business deadline, for instance.
Most of the time, these individual “customers” are satisfied with the prices that are offered to them, though sometimes, they might order something that is too big or too small. It is rare for someone to complain because the item was disappointing, but sometimes, when you are a new customer, a customer can be a customer.
When you order online, it is important to be the kind of customer who wants to be customer, not the kind of customer who is a slave to what the online merchant is offering. You have to be the kind of person who will never purchase something just because it’s on sale.
When you are looking for, or shopping for, a gift for someone special, you want to be the kind of person who will never turn down a gift that seems too good to be true, but will think twice about the gift you might receive when you get it. This is where online sales begin.
Online selling has been a relatively unknown phenomenon for about a decade, largely due to the difficulties in conducting it. With the growth in the number of people with email addresses or mailing addresses, many people are starting to order online. Since that growth has been relatively small compared to the growth of the Internet, which has seen a meteoric rise, I tend to think that things will continue to move at a glacial pace.