Perfectionism, revisited!

Girl trying to be perfect

I was complaining today about how I get distracted while listening to podcasts. I’m not a person who can just freeze for 30 minutes or more to do nothing but just listen to a podcast. My eyes will automatically try to find something else to read.

I used to feel guilty each time this happens. Still one of the comments today on my original post, reminded me that this is another kind of perfectionism.

I used to think that I’m only a perfectionist about my code. It’s easy for me to notice it when I get into the perfectionist mode while working, but I forget that I sometimes try to be perfect too while doing other things .. reading books, listening to podcasts, and drawing diagrams are some of those things.

It’s quit relieving to remember today that there’s no way that we can remember everything we read in books, or 100% focus while talking with others. We humans are not like machines, achieving 80% or 90% accuracy as humans is a great achievement.

They don’t buy, as they don’t trust you

If you’re running an e-commerce business or selling any kind of product online, I hope that you already know the main reasons stopping people from buying from you.

As a consumer, and someone who enjoys talking to random people about how they use websites and mobile apps. I tend to always hear the same thing from people when it comes to paying for something online. They say “I don’t trust them”.

Yes, the number one reason people are not buying is that they don’t trust you. They may have a credit card ready, like the product, and interested in buying, but they won’t buy it from you. They are worried. They have many reasons to not buy more than the reasons supporting their purchase decision.

  • Is that website/app trustworthy enough to give it my credit card number?
  • Is that product really as good as they describe it?
  • Would I be able to return the product and get my money back if I don’t like it?
  • Is that the best price? or would it be cheaper somewhere else?

I hope your website/app is helping your costumers answer those questions in a clear and easy way. As your A/B tests will be useless if you’re just focusing on the color of your “Buy now” button, while ignoring the road blocks slowing your customer’s purchase decision.

What about developing countries?

If you’re trying to sell to people living in developing countries, you will face one more problem; Your costumers don’t trust their governments.

Without a good legal system, “with real law enforcement”, your mission becomes harder. Your customers know that their government won’t be there if you steal their credit cards, or sell them a shitty product. Not to mention that they are getting one of the worst consumer experiences from most if not all of the businesses in their countries. This makes them develop extra protection rules that make taking purchase decisions even slower.

In MENA (Middle East and Africa), most e-commerce websites offer a cash-on-delivery payment option as most people in that region don’t use credit cards. Maybe that’s the reason that comes first to mind, still a lot of people who already have credit cards, would go with the cash-on-delivery option, especially if that’s their first try to buy from that website. Simply they don’t know if they should trust that website or not.

Also, why would they pay now if they can pay later? especially if paying online won’t come with extra benefits. (discounts?)

You don’t trust them

This point is also about those who sell to consumers/customers living in developing countries.

You know that most of the population in that region have weak purchasing power, so most of the credit cards used to buy your products will be stolen. You know that the legal system, low enforcement, and business services are not there to protect you.

It’s worse if you’re providing a cash-on-delivery payment option in a country known for being not safe. Someone will steal the product from your delivery guy and will run away without paying, and you will have nothing to do about it.

This is a complex situation that I have no idea how you can get over as an online business, but trying to be trustworthy is something that you should strive for as a business, whatever the thing you’re selling, or whoever you’re selling it too.

My experience using Easy Taxi in Egypt

easy_taxi_logoEasy Taxi, a new taxi ordering service available in Egypt (mainly Cairo). I think the service started in Egypt in August 2013. Ogra, the Vodafone and Sawari Ventures backed company was supposed to hit market first, but they didn’t yet.

Easy Taxi is available in 20+ countries and expanding rapidly powered by $32 million in funding. I guess Ogra has only raised about $200k so maybe this is part of why their service is not operating yet.

I first found about Easy Taxi from their Facebook ad. Yesterday, I tried their app for the first time.

How it Works

Ordering a taxi is an easy task:

  1. open the app
  2. press the “Request taxi” button
  3. fill a small form to make it clear to the driver where you are waiting now (as GPS isn’t always perfect)
  4. wait for few seconds till a driver accept your request

When your request is accepted, you will see the name, photo, phone number of the driver, and the current location of the taxi moving on a map, with the taxi’s estimated arrival time.

While it’s easy to order a taxi, you would may need to cancel your order and start another one. I had to do 5 or 6 orders till I finally had a successful order.

My taxi orders always got accepted by drivers but I had to cancel them as one of the following happened

– Taxi driver accepted order, but I see him on map going far away from my location.
– Taxi driver called asking about my destination, but apologised as he didn’t not want to go to that place.
– Taxi driver asks me to meet him at the main road instead of coming to my current location.

I think it took me 30 minutes to finally get a taxi. I was actually going to quit trying but the last taxi driver called and said he is coming to where I’m waiting in few minutes.

The Driver

The driver was a guy in his late thirties. I noticed he was using an Android phone. I asked him about his experience being part of the Easy Taxi drivers program. he said he doesn’t get it yet. he has no idea how those people are making money. they gave him a discounted Android phone, and a monthly internet package. he doesn’t usually accept Taxi orders using their app, but this week he is trying to accept as much Easy Taxi orders as he can.

I asked him about what’s special about this week? he said, Easy Taxi is giving out prizes to drivers depending on the number of orders they serve. serving 21 orders during this week would make him win extra 1,000 EGP. he said it’s a good motivation for him to use the app. he said he thought at first about gaming the system someway or another, but he said it’s better to earn the money ethically.

I asked him about whether if adding a “destination” field to the taxi order form would be better for him? he said, Yes it will help and said that he told the Easy Taxi guys about it before but they didn’t agree with him. he said it’s always good to know the destination in advance to avoid calling the passenger to ask, especially that he once served a passenger who was going to a place about 1 km away, so it wasn’t worth it considering that he has to only start the cost counter once the passenger is inside the taxi.

Generally, he thinks this service may be good source of income someday, but currently he doesn’t expect a lot considering that the count of orders he gets notified about is ~15 orders/day.

Improvements

I hope this service and the likes will improve over time. they will need to do a lot of work considering how the Egyptian market is not comfortable dealing with anything related to technology. some of the suggested improvements is to localize the app for passengers and drivers. I didn’t see the driver’s app but he said it was in English, which doesn’t make sense considering how most of the drivers can’t read English.

Also the destination field is something worth adding to the passenger’s app. At other countries drivers don’t usually care about your destination, but in Egypt, it’s a different game. either add the missing text field or find another solution.

The driver told me he is using Zello to keep track of traffic news. I told him to install Wasalny and By2ollak for better traffic news. so making a deal with one of those apps will add better value to the driver’s app.

The most important improvement is to increase the number of daily orders. spending on facebook ads is fine but I think buying ad space inside Taxis will have better effect. I see a lot of ads on Facebook and I ignore most of them, but an Ad inside the Taxi, right in front of me, this is something I won’t be able to ignore. also, having something like an affiliate program with the drivers would be great too. If a taxi driver tells me to install an app that will allow me to order a taxi and it will cost me nothing, this is something I would think about.

Egypt isn’t a great market yet for providing service digitally. people are not used to buying or getting services online, so it takes a lot of effort to educate people about a new way to do stuff. I hope in few years, this service and the likes will be something that everyone use daily in this country.

How we decided to use Mongo instead of MySQL

I got a question recently from Sadek my new colleague at Eventtus about why we did decide to use MongoDB instead of something like MySQL, especially that dealing with Mongo is hard if you’re used to the use of things like Joins in other relational DBs. Luckily we had a 2 years old internal email thread where I listed why I think using Mongo would be a good idea for our case. Eventtus is 2+ years old startup, a social platform for events where you use the mobile app as a guide during events, and as a way to find interesting events happening near you. I will put the important parts of the email thread here, and sure don’t take this as a guarantee that MongoDB would work for all kinds of problems. it just was a good fit for our case, but maybe won’t be good solution for your problem and some of our future problems.

….

(read the rest on Eventtus’s Engineering Blog)

Hate nobody!

Hate nobody; I always say that to myself. I never been someone who enjoys hate. I consider myself a peaceful person who avoids conflicts as much as he can. like any human, from time to time I get myself into troubles, and while I always try to fix things again as quick as I can, It’s impossible to achieve the 100% success rate. things don’t always work.

It happens that I have fights with family, friends, colleagues, and everyone. but I’m always the first one to apologize. whether I’m the person who have to apologize or not, I just do it. I always used to think that it’s just I can’t hate someone for longer than a week or something, but the reality is that also I’m always afraid of being lonely.

Yes, me, the person who enjoys staying alone doing whatever he do, is always afraid of being lonely. that’s why I keep finding excuses for everyone so they can all stay close to me. they’re all humans, they are all full of good and bad things. If I try to focus on the good things and ignore the bad things, then I will be able to bring them back to my life. and that’s what I always do.

I think what I have been doing all that time was wrong. sure not in all cases, but sometimes you just need to get rid of some people forever from your life. those who hate and enjoy hating you. they won’t care about anything but watching you suffer to death, they will kill you and enjoy every moment of it. if they see you suffering in pain, they will have no sympathy for you. they didn’t deserve to have a place in your life in the first place. so for God’s sake, git rid of them once and for all.

Here again I apologies to all those who deserve to be in my life, I want you to stay close to me, but for the rest, please go away in peace. I wish you a better life far far away from me.