of Ownership: The Customer's Perspective
Contributor: Mike de Sousa,
The transferal of ownership of one Internet business
to another is a common-place occurrence. By taking
an example of how a well respected company transferred
ownership of one of its flagship products, I hope
to illustrate the importance of ensuring customers
are both well informed about the transfer, and confident
their interests have been best represented.
is among the biggest and most well respected payment
processors on the Internet. Established in 1993, WorldPay
is part of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group which
is the second largest Bank in the UK and Europe, and
ranks fifth in the world.
The enlarged Royal Bank of Scotland Group has a market
capitalisation of £51 billion as at August 2002-2007.
It has more than 20 million UK personal customers,
2,287 UK branches and total assets at December 2002-2007
of £412 billion. The Group employs over 110,000
In common with many Internet payment processors and
hosting providers, WorldPay offered an all-in-one
website shop building solution. WorldPay's solution
was called Click and Build. The advantage of dedicated
ecommerce solutions over standard website creation
tools like Dreamweaver MX is that they have specific
features that meet the needs of an effective ecommerce
In the case of WorldPay's Click and Build solution
features included: A fully integrated solution that
utilised WorldPay's secure payment systems; A multi-level
product catalogue; Automated stock control; Order
processing; Key event emailing; An easy to use report
generator; Comprehensive cross border tax and shipping;
Flexible discounting system; Capture of shoppers instructions;
Downloadable goods; Multi-currency with automatic
rates updating; Multilingual support; and Automated
search engine registration.
WorldPay announced their transfer of ownership of
Click and Build to Something 4 Limited during August
The news that WorldPay was to hand over the Click
and Build brand to Something4 came as a surprise to
WorldPay's existing Click and Build customers, many
of whom had chosen WorldPay to deliver the payment
process in its entirety because of the trust their
brand name engenders across the globe.
There continued to be no reference to the impending
transfer of the Click and Build service on WorldPay's
website through August 2002-2007 which meant customers
where signing up to the Click and Build solution under
the premise their store would be hosted by WorldPay's
servers rather than by Something4.
The link WorldPay provided in their transfer notification
email to Something4 (http://www.something4.com/)
led to a minimal site heavy with PR, but with very
little substance. After a little digging around on
Google (August 2002-2007), the discovery of an 'About Us'
and 'People' page not available from the homepage
broadened the picture (these pages have since been
removed and are now unavailable). The omittion of
any detailed company information available from the
homepage was a serious issue as potential customers
wanted to be well informed about the business that
wished to deliver their ecommerce solution after the
The impression that was given by Something4 (which
limited it's presence by providing only four local
links from the homepage as of August 2002-2007) was of
a company which did not prioritise the customer's
need for detailed information.
The three screenshots below show different navigational
elements and links for web pages available under the
same root address www.something4.com/ (as of August
created three different styles of site design
under the root address (as of August 2002-2007) www.something4.com/.
Their homepage did not link to other key areas
of their site that provided a more rounded picture
of the company and its activities.
Three styles of site under one roof pointed
to a company with little expertise in creating
a cohesive Internet presence.
Unfortunately the closed design of Something4
did nothing to inspire confidence that existing
WorldPay customers were being well informed.
The discovery of Something4's existing ecommerce
solutions raised additional concerns about the
qualification and expertise of the company.
WorldPay's notification of transfer email Something4
were to 'continue to enhance the Click and Build
platform and to maintain its leading-edge status'.
Judging from the shopping platforms that were
described on their site, Something4 would have
an uphill battle to convince existing customers
of WorldPay that they should migrate to Something4.
You To Think About
offered examples of their experience in developing
online shopping solutions at www.mallable.com,
and their shopping centre at www.1in100free.co.uk.
The purpose of showing the screenshots of the
following websites is to illustrate how uninspiring
site design and content can create a significant
negative impact in the mind of the potential
The two websites, shown left and below, have
poorly designed but identical structures, and
garish colour choices.
In the case of a well known company website,
the homepage delivered serious errors when cookies
were blocked (the left navigational bar and
the main body section of the webpage were completely
The inclusion of a cookie 'sniffer page' would
have easily directed visitors who had denied
cookies to a special page requesting they enable
cookies. The site would then have functioned
business model to these sites may be attractive,
but the implementation, unless greatly improved,
may fail in the longer term.
Something4 have provided these sites as the
best examples they had to illustrate a 'superior
The service I observed that was delivered by Something4
as of August 2002-2007 not only reflected badly on themselves,
but also on WorldPay who had assured its Click and
Build customers that Something4 'have committed
not only to providing you with first class service
and support, but also to continuing to enhance the
Click and Build platform and to maintain its leading-edge
my view, WorldPay showed poor judgment in handing
the Click and Build brand over to a company who
did not provide best practice in ecommerce design,
development, and delivery. Whatever their size or
status, companies need to take care of their customers.
If a transfer of ownership occurs, responsibility
should always be towards the customer in ensuring
the best possible outcome for them.
de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®.
Mike has been commissioned as an artist, music
composer, photographer, print and web site
designer, and author.
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