Some e-tailers with religiously observant owners and executives say their businesses are not hurt by shutting down operations in observance of the Sabbath, according to the New York Times, despite consumer expectations of 24/7 customer service online.
Ice.com, an online jeweler based in Montreal, keeps it website up and running on the Sabbath, but does not complete orders, work on the site or otherwise do anything to help customers. Ice.com CEO Shmuel Gniwisch tells the Times: “I actually think we’ve gained. Customers know if they need something they can wait until Sunday when we’re open, and people at the company have the chance to recharge and come back stronger.”
Douglas W. Phillips, president of San Antonio-based online retailer Vision Forumm is a Christian who forbids employees to work on Sunday and does not allow the site’s technology systems to complete orders on Sunday. Yet, Phillips says company sales increased 10 percent to roughly $5.5 million. “Especially in the fourth quarter, when people are cramming to buy things at the last minute, this policy really seems crazy,” he tells the Times. “But we think that if we honor God on this point, the Lord blesses us.”
Investors may not be as understanding. Ice.com’s Gniwisch is considering venture capital financing, putting the company on the road toward IPO which could some day jeopardize his Sabbath observance policy.