In this post, we’ll share the results of the survey, our plans to make some necessary improvements, and the reasons we decided not to make others.
At SparkFun, we see ourselves as more than just an online electronics retailer - we're a community of hobbyists, engineers, programmers, creatives, nerds, tinkerers, and teachers. Our culture grew from the concept that all ideas are created equal - and are better off shared. We are expected to be transparent and question the rules. Everyone has an equal right to voice their opinion and listen to the opinions of others.
In that vein, we reached out to some of you to learn about your experiences with us, and find out what we need to do to get better. In this post, we'll share the results of the survey and our plans (and progress so far) to make necessary improvements.
One of the most important takeaways from the survey is that you (our customers) are doing some really amazing things!
->"At Motoczysz we are always looking for new ways to solve problems
in order to build the sickest roadracing motorcycles out there. SparkFun has a great selection
and we don't need to be electrical engineers to have a polished solution fast."
Nick Schoeps, Lead Motorsports Engineer <-
The survey also brought home that you are willing to give us honest feedback. We received a ton of new insights and actionable suggestions as we spent up to an hour with customers on the phone. Some ideas we had already considered, but as a result of the feedback, we pushed them up the pipeline.
"I don't think I have seen you guys do discounts - that would be awesome"
Look for discounts via social media later this spring on these channels: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Flickr, Youtube and the newsletter.
We would like to thank our survey takers (and everyone that leaves feedback on the SparkFun website and forum) for sharing your opinions and ideas, and we hope our follow up will improve your experience with us.
->"I have the impression that it is an organization composed
of people who really enjoy what they are doing." <-
If you're interested in specifics, here is a brief summary of the survey results:
What does SparkFun Electronics do best?
- Product information
- Product inventory
- SparkFun community and personality
What do you think is most in need of improvement here at SparkFun? (Note the similarity in responses to those above):
- The addition of specific product information
"There have been products where the description does not match the device because the product was updated"
- Tweaks/fixes to the website
"A time estimate on re-stocking out-of-stock products would be really great" (this has been done - check it out on the product pages now)
- The addition of specific products
"Source more interesting components and provide breakouts?
Our customers feel that the most relevant content includes the Friday New Product videos and the New Products section of the website (75% of respondents mentioned this).
"On my workbench I need the same tools as your engineers - screwdrivers, wire, and boards. SparkFun continually introduces new tools and new ways to solve problems, so I find all I need."
Our customers most often found out about SparkFun from search engines (31%) and word-of-mouth (31%), followed by referrals from magazines, blogs, and other websites (21%).
The interests of SparkFun's customer base are incredibly varied, but hobbyist is the most common, followed by computer engineering, software engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, creative endeavors, and teaching.
Desk of Nick Poole
, Hobbyist, and Creative Technologist at SparkFun
Suggested Improvements from Survey Takers - Status of Follow Up
- Out-of-stock products should include an "Estimated Time of Arrival" - Fixed
- Searches should not land on a retired product page - Fix underway
- Include more complete product information, including schematics, example hook-up and source code for all boards and applicable products - Three fixes, done or underway:
- Toni (formerly in Tech Support) is now doing Quality Assurance for Engineering
- We are expanding and encouraging use of GitHub
- We have been building out our Tutorials
- Better accommodate mobile traffic - Fix underway
- Document and notify customers when new product iterations are rolled out - In addition to expanding and encouraging use of GitHub we are discussing the possibility of email notifications
- Each shipping option should include an average Estimated Time of Arrival - In the pipeline
- Tag content with beginner, intermediate and advanced ratings - In the pipeline - look for skill level and skill set icons on product pages soon
- Add more beginner-level resources - Additions underway - learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials
- More guidance in the descriptions on how custom boards are different - New tutorials are being put up weekly, Shieldstravaganza may help, and a better site search tool is live now
- Provide better page navigation and load times for products with long comment threads - Utilizing tabs may be the fix, but is in discussion
- Provide a better way for innovative ideas to be heard - In discussion
- Include lists of all parts and components used in blogs and videos - Underway
- Create a Free Day-style promo that rewards long-term customers - This year we will be rolling out special benefits to all of our customers most likely via shipping cost breaks; and discounts will soon be posted via social media
- Subtitle the videos - We looked into this awhile back - it took longer than it took to create video. Recently there has been some movement -we started a Git repo of transcriptions for According to Pete videos. Help out if you can, information from a previous blog here.
Phew, that was a lot! If you made it through all that - congrats! Please feel free to leave any thoughts or suggestions you might have for us in the comments below - we are always looking for ways to improve. Thanks for reading!