chapters indigo site needs more win

Update: 07/23/2010

I tweeted a link to this ranty post out to @chaptersindigo and got this back today from @indigo_renee

"@phro Tx for the suggestions. Some of your concerns are definitely on our development roadmap. Others, I'll look into. @chaptersindigo"
Thanks guys! I'm looking forward to checking out what you cook up.

Aside from creative curse words, liver damage, and extra pounds, the only other thing I've had a long term interest in collecting is books.  Which is to say that besides being an avid reader I am also an avid book buyer.  I think libraries have their place, for research, and for folks who are big readers for the sake of reading.  But me, I love reading and I love books besides.  I almost always read with a notepad and pen beside me, and I love taking a highlighter to my favourite passages.  To me the book, like the computer, is a tool that can (and should!) be personalized for maximum throughput.

I say all that to say, I buy a lot of books.  A regular payday treat for me is to stop by a bookstore on the way home.  I re-buy books I already own so I can give away copies without depleting my stash.  On my desktop computer at work, home, on my cell phone, and on my nightstand are lists labelled "things to read", and I'll probably buy them all.

When I started using Chapters/Indigo's site to order stuff they didn't stock in stores I also began using their wishlist feature as a way to consolidate all these disparate lists into one sane place; namely, where the books are. In so doing, by extension I started keeping a list of things that could be better on the Chapters/Indigo site, which for some reason they do not have a place for on their site so I'll put it here.

1. How about a suggestions page?

Why do I have to put this list on my blog?  Chapters are you really so disinterested in how customers think you could improve?

Yes I see there is a "contact us" form, how very 90's, but it appears to be entirely customer service related.  Something more obvious would be better.  Don't make it difficult for people to try to help you.  That should be a rule in business and life in general.

2. Disappearing features stink.

Some books cannot be added to the wishlist for no apparent reason at all.  That book I linked is currently "Temporarily Unavailable to Order New".  Does that mean I should just stop wishing? Say it ain't so!

The current availability of a product has absolutely no bearing on my desire to have that product at some point in the future.  Plus there is quality customer data to be had there regarding demand, data that could be used to encourage publishers that a reprint is in order.  All that valuable data is being silently ignored while simultaneously removing functionality for the user.

3. Do you know who I am?

This weekend my dad and I snooped around the Festival Hall Chapters on John street and we picked up a few titles, one of which was an item from my wishlist.  I purchased that book with the same debit and irewards cards I use to buy books online, yet when I logged in to the site a couple days later I had to remove the title from my wishlist by hand.

All the necessary data to take care of this without my help is right there to be used.  Even if the next time I sign in it just asks me "Hey, we noticed you bought this, should we take it off your wish list for you?", that's fine.  Those precious seconds of user attention being wasted on something that ought to be automatic could be better used promoting products.

4. Do you know who that guy is?

When I search for the author of my currently-unavailable-yet-wished-for book I discover that David Dunning is a popular name among authors.  No problem, I figure my guy isn't writing about managing a dental practice so I click on the David Dunning below and something bizarre happens, it just searches for the guys name again.  

That link may as well be labelled "waste our bandwidth, waste your bandwidth, and waste some time", or more plainly "reload".  Chapters, please talk to a DBA and see about getting a unique key on your authors database table so when clicked it does what a user would expect and limits search results to the David Dunning they're interested in.

5. Coffee?

While scouring the site looking for a suggestion page I discovered that I pass the Chapters/Indigo home offices on my way to and from work every day.  If somebody over there reads this and would like to chat by all means get in touch.

You're buying :)