The people at Glyde.com contacted me recently and asked if I would review this new site that allows visitors to buy, sell and organize used books, DVDs, CDs and games. Since the site features books I thought it would be a good fit for The Book Connection, but it is going to be different than my typical review. I will list what I liked about Glyde.com and where I felt the site could use some improvements.
Let's start with the good stuff. Unlike many sites that contain so many graphics and so much text your eyes don't know where to settle first, the plain background behind a ticker of available products has some appeal. The site also isn't crowded with a lot of promotional garbage.
Glyde.com has a nice selection of products in a variety of genres. There is a drop down box that allows you to search products by genre or by game console. You can also click on "See All" so that you get a bookshelf view of these products rather than the ticker version.
Similiar to what you will find on Shelfari, Glyde.com allows you to organize your books, games, DVDs and CDs on a virtual shelf for others to get a glimpse into your tastes. While you don't need to log in to browse Glyde'com's selection of products, you do have to create a username and password to organize your stuff. The log in process is simple and painless. It took me under fifteen seconds, and there is no confirmation email required. You can also create a neat widget for your blog, social network profile, or any webpage that supports Flash.
Now let's move onto the areas I would like to see improved. While the homepage is uncluttered, its gray background is drab and boring. If I had stumbled upon this site by accident, I don't know that I would have wandered any further after seeing that dull homepage. Perhaps a Windows blue or some other eye-catching color would help.
The site's search engine could use a little work. When I typed in "Michael Shaara" I received no results, but when I typed in "Shaara" I received several results, which included books by Michael Shaara. I repeated this several times to make sure I didn't spell the name incorrectly, and received the same results each time.
I did not decide to buy or list an item to sell during my initial visit, but I might just to see how the whole process works. What I did notice, however, is that like eBay, the shipping charges on some products can be a bit high. A used copy of Fancy Nancy and the Boy from Paris in acceptable condition sells for $2.25; but with shipping the buyer will pay $6.03. I can go to Walmart.com and buy a new copy of the book for a total cost of $5.80 (includes shipping). I found the same thing with Halo 3 for XBox 360. There is a used copy on Glyde.com listed in good condition for a total cost of $38.81 (includes shipping). Walmart.com offers a new version of the same game for $42.43 (includes shipping), and if I decide to have the game shipped to my local Walmart store, I pay no shipping.
Now, granted, buying from Walmart.com versus Glyde.com may not be comparing apples to apples, but during these tough economic times I firmly believe that consumers are looking to save money however they can, and therefore, this could be a deterent to Glyde.com's success.
The one policy that I have a hard time swallowing is the buyer having to pay a portion of the shipping charges to return a product if that item is not as described. If I am purchasing a product from a website, I must have faith that the seller has listed the product correctly. As the buyer, I shouldn't be penalized if the seller has incorrectly listed a product. I also don't care for the fact that all returns must be initiated within 48 hours of receipt. I regularly purchase products online and there are times when I don't even open the box for 72 hours or more, never mind have time to inspect the product to make sure it's what I want.
Lastly, I wish there was some other way to contact Glyde.com than email. While this is not unusual, and email is my preferred method of communication when purchasing online, it would be nice to have a 1-800 number to contact in case you need quick resolution or have the desire to speak to a human being rather than wait for a return email.
Overall, I see Glyde.com as having great potential. It's newly launched, and therefore, has nowhere to go but up. A bit more eye-appeal on the homepage, and reconsidering its policy to have the seller pay for a portion of the shipping on returns, will have me using this site more often.