Diwan bookstore is taking its customer service to another level – home deliveries and a fully searchable Web site, replete with online book clubs and interactive discussion circles.
Diwan owner Nadia Wassef said the Web site will be ready for customer use by the end of this year. In the meantime, Diwan will actually start doing home deliveries now, without the Web site. “Just to get our feet wet, Wassef explains.
Wassef is particularly enthusiastic about another addition to Diwan’s new services: what she calls the direct mail order campaign. Customers can call or email the bookstore and ask to join this monthly mail service, where they will get a flyer that elaborates on certain themes, such as the top 20 business books of the year, or best new novels. It will also advise readers what books they might like if they enjoyed certain books featured at Diwan. Wassef said these new services will improve Diwan’s customer service. “It’s exciting because it helps us to get to know our customers more, and know their tastes. Moreover, she thinks the online book discussions will give people a place to talk about their impressions and reactions with others without worrying about the limited seating space available inside Diwan. But she rejects the idea that getting too involved in cyber space could detract from in-shop customers. “No matter how technical everything gets, I don’t think anything makes up for a nice, physical space – being able to browse through the books, and enjoy your coffee. The experience of going to a bookstore used to be my time out. Nothing’s going to change that. Wassef says she’s belt both the joys and frustrations of running a small business as Diwan worked to get this project off the ground. She acknowledges that the Web site project has been in the works for a long time, but getting it off the ground has been slow, as the small operation uploads pictures and data entries for each title the store offers. But she also finds pleasure in the flexibility she has as she develops the store.
“One of the perks of being a small outfit is that you can afford to be innovative and creative without a lot of red tape. As for the rather novel decision to deliver books, Wassef points out that it’s a standard business practice in Egypt: “We’re a lazy country. This is the only country I know where the pharmacy and green grocer delivers. It’s a craze fad, everyone delivers. It’s a natural part of city culture here.
And her rationality for the decision went beyond practical to a little philosophical as well: “They deliver all basic necessities here. And a book is a basic necessity.