Napoleon Bonaparte once called the British a nation of shop-keepers. Apparently, this was not meant to be a compliment but, as the designer and creator of a series of online department stores, I am incredibly proud of my association with the owners of stores of all kinds and sizes, not just on both sides of the Atlantic but across the world!
In my youth, I can remember accompanying my mother around some of the more up-market department stores in London and the wonderment aroused by the opulence, the displays and the manners of the immaculately uniformed staff to be found hovering discreetly wherever you might look.
From the red velvet seats and giant candelabra in the tea room of an establishment that was (being untouched by the ghastly ‘modern’ décor of the 1950s) the epitome of luxury to my youthful mind; to the rather more mundane and practical but, nonetheless, exciting place where, in return for standing still whilst being measured for a school uniform I could be sure of being given some treat like the latest editions of the children’s comics of which my father so disapproved.
Years later, when I figured out that the best way to let visitors to my websites enjoy the content without being bombarded with advertising was to create online department stores, I drew upon the essence of my memories for the style and ‘feel’ of each ‘shopping mall’ as I decided to name them.
Obviously I needed to try and raise advertising revenue from visitors to my sites, even if only to cover server costs and so forth, but I knew how agitated I became myself when I couldn’t read the content of other people’s sites because the advertising content was so distracting, to the point of irritation, so I was determined to find a way around having to foist the same thing upon my own visitors.
The idea has taken quite a long time to catch on with my visitors. Some still do not seem to have grasped that just visiting my online department stores and even clicking on the banners of individual merchants will not, in itself, increase my revenue whatsoever. I can only benefit by receiving what is, usually, a very meager commission, in the event that they are visiting those merchants online for the first time ever via my link and that they purchase something immediately or not very long after the first visit.
This means that, in truth, about half of the sales made via my department stores do not earn me anything at all – the visitor has visited before, via someone else’s link and it is that someone else who will receive the little (or, occasionally, decent-sized) commission on sales made to my visitor. Such is life!