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Ecommerce review: Telstra & Deals Direct

Ecommerce review: Telstra & Deals Direct

The other day my “portable phone” started to drop out mid conversation frustrating myself, my wife and our callers.

What’s a portable phone you ask? Well it’s what I call a cordless phone. Maybe I’m strange, but that’s the thing about language – there are many different ways to describe an object. I was a bit out on a limb with “portable phone” but I should have been able to complete my task quickly and easily regardless of my long-tail key phrase.

Sadly it was not so. Choosing and buying my portable phone was difficult.

I was looking for a portable phone with an attached answering machine so I don’t have to pay for the Telstra service.

I should state that I am a spontaneous buyer type. I like to get it over and done with quickly and find comparison shopping very very boring.

I am probably one of the easiest buyer types to cater for, which is why the problems I experienced concerned me. If online retail is to grow in Australia, ecommerce sites need to do better. It is as simple as that.

It should have been easy…

My broken phone was bought the old fashioned way from a Telstra shop, so I could have gone there first, but I thought I would compare some alternatives. Of course I “Googled it”, entering the keyphrase “portable phone”.


Scanning the entries I spied an ad for Deals Direct and remembered I had heard the founder talk at a fairly lame seminar about Asian trade so I thought I would check it out.

The result was a letdown. The landing page had a list of totally unrelated items. I used the site search and searched for “portable phone” elliciting the same result. No good.

Where are the portable phones?

After I clicked on a few site categories it dawned on me that normal humans call portable phones, cordless phones.

After searching for “cordless phone” I got the results I wanted.

Making a choice wasn’t wasy though. In fact I was overwhelmed with choice. How could I distinguish between the generic Chinese crap and the good Chinese stuff? Did I need to?

After viewing a couple of brands I decided to visit Telstra, select a reliable model and then price compare. Great strategy!

Finding the phone on the Telstra site was easy. There was a small selection and a useful compare tool.As I was getting bored with shopping (being a spontaneous buyer) I decided just to buy it from Telstra.

The shopping cart was straightforward and easy to use. When I got to the payment page I dashed off to get my wallet and was distracted by the baby and dinner. Forty five minutes later I returned to my laptop and entered my credit card details only to receive a message telling me that my account and cart session had timed-out and for security reasons both had been deleted.

This was not the error I received. I got this while trying to repeat the purchase. I thought I would use this as an another example of how not to handle error messages in online retail.

I was shocked and dismayed!

How the hell did that help me?

If you are going to time-out my login session then at least keep the cart intact for me. To clear both with some vague message about security is both arrogent and annoying. The implication is “It’s for your own good, and don’t worry, you’re probably too dumb to understand”

Needless to say I elected not to purchase with Telstra. I repeated my search, this time searching for “cordless phone” and ended up purchasing a cheap phone from


So what went wrong?

  • Deals Direct need to target long-tail key phrases in their internal search engine and also in organic and paid search;
  • They should also customise landing pages so they are based on the search terms.┬áThis should of course include relevant long-tail key phrases. Doing so will stop buyers hunting around to see if they’re in the right place. I bet the current landing pages have a high bounce rate for certain key phrases. Making them more targeted would reduce the bounce and increase buyer conversion.
  • Deals Direct should consider creating buyer guides and product comparisons so more meticulous buyer types can be sure they are buying the right products. The reviews would benefit by being more “findable”.
  • Telstra need to remember that humans are flesh and blood, complex creatures with a varied set of wants and needs. Humans do not follow a nice linear path when purchasing stuff and ecommerce websites need to expect this. ┬áLogin session timeouts should not kill the cart!
  • Telstra need to work on their error messages and have a user experience expert look over them. Perhaps even usability test the errors. A buyer needs to know: What happened; What they can do to fix it or when it will be fixed. Adding a phone number, chat or click-to-call to all error messages is a nice way of addressing buyer concerns and turning a poor experience into a great one.

There has been an explosion of investment in online retail in Australia recently with many major big box retailers having releasing new websites. Continual optimisation is required to make sure that investors get a good return on their investment, buyers have a positive experience and technology laggards are convinced that shopping online is secure and easy.

The good news is that my new portable phone works very well

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  5. Kevin


    Nice story – makes some very good points and learnings – we in Australia are getting better at ecommerce but we could do even more … Agreed..


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