I waited patiently to interview Krzysztof Bartnik about his experiences running eKomercyjnie.pl service and magazine. I knew it would be worth it and then, finally, he came through the door! He apologized but I know online vendors have a long queue of important things to do and think about work day and night. Plus Krzysztof simultaneously runs an online service and a magazine for and about the Polish e-commerce sector, so he’s constantly training vendors, presenting at conferences and organizing national promotions like Free Shipping Day. But right now, he’s excited to talk about his e-commerce experiences.
You’ve run an e-commerce service since 2008. What guided you when you were creating eKomercyjnie.pl (a blog at the time)? Did you want to share your knowledge and experience with other e-commerce owners or were you looking for information about conducting an online shop?
Both. I had an online shop then and was looking for a way to exchange knowledge and experiences with other online vendors. In those days a lot of interesting things were happening in the Polish market but no one was talking about them. No one shared ideas for online shop development either. That’s why the idea to launch the eKomercyjnie.pl blog came quite naturally. And, as sometimes happens with new initiatives, my enthusiasm disappeared at some point. After almost a year, no new information had appeared on my site. Then in March 2010, I decided to take eKomercyjnie.pl seriously − and I intend to expand on it for a long time to come. :)
When eKomercyjnie.pl was being created, had you already run an online shop, or did you learn from cases you described on your service?
I used to run a shop offering accessories for computer players back then and certainly, the knowledge I gained from running eKomecyjnie.pl was very useful in that sector. However, my two Internet bookstores fell through. After some time, I shared this experience with my readers. It was then I realized that e-commerce is not for everyone.
Is eKomercyjnie.pl addressed mainly to people just starting their e-commerce business, or who are running or have run an online shop at some time? Or do you also offer interesting content for big players in the e-commerce market?
I address eKomercyjnie.pl generally to online shop owners. It’s obvious that published articles and e-commerce knowledge are especially useful for owner of smaller shops. However, big players closely observe the market and often have to find the most important information for themselves. Even a few small changes introduced in a big online shop can take revenue or profits to a totally new level. So it’s really worth it to follow the trade press. On the other hand, well-informed e-commerce beginners can jump in at a satisfactory level of competency and avoid making others’ mistakes.
Taking into consideration your many years of experience writing about Polish e-commerce, what, in your opinion, are the strengths of Polish online shops and what is their Achilles heel?
Polish online shops are getting stronger in customer service (return policies, complaint handling, and response rate for requests); they understand better and better the need to have their own warehouses in order to provide immediate delivery of goods. That’s a value added feature that helps avoid price wars. The main challenges facing Polish online shops are: limited budget for promotional activities (e-commerce is still commerce, so they need to reach the customer), lack of planning, and lack of human resources (the owner is often the only employee). Nevertheless, I think the Polish market is changing for the better.
You organized the “Legal aspects of e-commerce” initiative where online vendors could send you legal queries. You compiled, then published the answers on eKomercyjnie.pl. Has this generated a lot of interest among online shops? And do online vendors often feel like they are ‘walking on thin ice’ when it comes to all the regulations?
In less than two weeks I received tens of questions, which I asked our law office to handle as promptly as possible. For small firms, using the services of lawyers may be too expensive. This initiative helped address many common legal issues and questions. But, at the same time, the opinion about legal services being too expensive is somewhat illusory. It’s better to pay once for guidance on e-commerce regulations than to look for help after receiving a petition against the use of Prohibited Clauses.
Which aspects of running an online shop need more educational campaigns?
We are still are in the development stage of our e-commerce market, so education of online vendors is essential in every area. The regulations are constantly changing, as well as capabilities to solve the problems, so we cannot stand still…we have to go forward. Regarding the law, however, we should lean backwards to offer customers security and user-friendly logistics in our online shops − from the moment of order to shipping and restocking. We need good workshops or courses about organizing online shop facilities, that’s for sure! But I’m not so sure that we would find vendors willing to reveal their procedures.
An Internet service is a very good communications channel, but even the most valuable content often looks like news clips. The magazine offers a place to publish longer articles, and present interesting interviews and current market information. Online vendors are very busy managing their 24/7 businesses, so they have no time to read a few online posts every day. For them, a magazine is a better solution. He can take the hard copy in hand (until then printed PDF version) and read it over the weekend. About the superiority of the press over the Internet (and vice versa), I don’t want to discuss. In my opinion, both channels are excellent and complement each other. Hence the decision to launch the first issue of a trade magazine.
Weren’t you afraid of being compared to Proseed magazine [popular magazine about technology business in start-up and rapid growth modes]? Both in terms of content and visual presentation?
I wasn’t afraid of this :) “Zero”(test) issue of eKomecyjnie.pl magazine because it was created in collaboration with Proseed’s editors. They gave me substantive and organizational support. I even used the Proseed look and just filled it with my own content. Last week, it appeared on stands – the full issue of eKomercyjnie.pl magazine! And now it was just me and my team. From the initial reactions of our readers, I think they like the format.
Finally, tell something about your upcoming plans for the eKomercyjnie.pl service and magazine? Or maybe you’re thinking about a new project? :)
Further development, more good, substantive articles and guidance for online vendors – I want to take this direction. eKomercyjnie.pl is now changing from a company blog signed with my name into a good e-commerce service (with editorial staff, etc.). I wonder myself what will develop and will try to constantly surprise our readers.
So I’ll watch for more good news about eKomercyjnie.pl and thank you for this interview!
Krzysztof Bartnik – editor in chief of www.eKomercyjnie.pl, advising on issues of creating, running and promoting online shops. He developed his own online shop with board games at GameClub.pl. From 2007-2010, he was a Project Manager at O2 Group (responsible for creating, developing and current operating of Radar.pl – the price comparison site – and for a platform for creating online shops, otwarte.pl). He is the initiator and organizer of Free Shipping Day in Poland.