Reality Bites for Virtual Businesses - July 25th, 2006
The late nineties were a great time to be alive but a terrible time to plan a business. The technological boom was at the forefront of everything. Entrepreneurs everywhere were challenging the status quo and asking the rare question “can this be done better?” With a wealth of innovative people and lofty ambitions, technology challenged the way business was done. This resulted in e-commerce, twenty-two year old billionaires, and pet supplies delivered free-of-charge.
It seemed like money was just being given away. If you harnessed Internet skills and a little imagination the sky was the limit. IPO’s, buying marketshare, and virtual businesses were the buzzwords of the day.
What was a virtual business? It was supposed to include all of the money and prestige of owning a business without the headaches or actual work. Virtual businesspeople would rely on wholesalers and drop-shippers to handle all of their shipping. This would free their superior minds to sit back and count the money. Unfortunately, reality bites and it bit virtual businesses especially hard.
Lack of communications between managers and drop shippers, poor customer service, and the inherent confusion of conducting business over long distances doomed the virtual business. The equilibrium between drop shippers and virtual businesses was a delicate one, any slight problem got exacerbated to cataclysmic proportions and no one was taking the blame.
Unlikely as it may seem, some virtual businesses still survive. Recently, however another one bit the dust. Despite being one of the first gift retailers on the Internet in 1995, RomanticGifts.com struggled to make an impact in the field of erotic luxuries. The owners believed the virtual business model would work, but never found success. Customers were unhappy, shipments were delayed and sales suffered. What RomanticGifts.com needed was a trip back to simpler times when customer service and reliability were still viable commodities.
A splash of cold water to the face came in late June when RomanticGifts.com was acquired by the Isdera Corporation. Isdera Corp. operates 9 other Internet sites from a warehouse and office and Hazel Park, Michigan. Isdera Corp. quickly overhauled RomanticGifts.com. Not only does RomanticGifts.com now have a warehouse full of products and a full-time staff to handle the shipping. The former vagabond virtual business now specializes in customer service.
On many other gift websites you will find generic descriptions and stock photos of the products offered. RomanticGifts.com improves the experience by including individualized photos and product descriptions you can peruse at your leisure. You can order online or from a human operator.
The RomanticGifts.com website has recently been relaunched. The new site is much broader and can offer any item that customers want to buy. RomanticGifts.com now offers the commitment and service of old world salesmanship. This is an analog relic we should all be glad to reencounter.