Saul Berman writes about online shopping
I wouldn’t say I am the first to take up new technology, but I am definitely not the last. More like one of the early majority, rather than early adopter (refer: http://ift.tt/2oN7w5H).
So, it has only been in the past 6 months that I have really been giving online shopping a red hot go.
Six months ago, I purchased a pair of suit pants from an online store belonging to a retail store who I have been buying from for years. The pants turned out to be a different material (more like canvas jeans) so I had to drive to the store to exchange them.
I blame myself for not reading the description more clearly.
Four months ago I purchased a shirt from an online store, from whom I have previously purchased shirts form their bricks and mortar store. Again, the description didn’t match what I had thought, but good enough to keep and wear. I went back to check the online description, and again blame myself (an online description did explain that it had a button down collar. I just didn’t see it amongst the rest of the description).
Over the past 6 weeks, my 17 year old daughter and I have been competing with each other, or so it seems, for online purchases. For me, it was to buy Mother’s Day gifts for my wife, on behalf of myself and the kids. For my daughter, purchases for casual wear and upcoming formal balls.
1. I viewed an online store, then drove to their actual store to make purchase, only to find that they didn’t have all the same stock that the online store had. I drove home and made online purchase.
2. On choosing products online, they, again, didn’t have same products, or colours or sizes of the same products, as their actual store. I made my purchases, then once they arrived, I drive the goods to the store, to exchange for the correct colour or size. A waste of time on my part.
3. Enquiries made online regarding my purchase, on the day of the purchase, were responded to 3 days later, not good enough for a normal enquiry, let alone for an online ordering enquiry/sales enquiry.
4. Deliveries came late.
5. Deliveries went to wrong address.
6. Deliveries that were scheduled to ‘leave at front door’ weren’t. I rescheduled 3 times to come to my home, and each time, it went to Post Office. A Call Centre representative told me that they do not offer a ‘leave at door’ option, even though I had the post office card and website information to suggest otherwise.
7. Post Mother’s Day, I need to exchange one item for a different size. I took item to the retail store and was told that it was too late as they only exchange within 30 days. So my making online purchase early to ensure I had the items pre-Mother’s Day has backfired.
8. Phone calls not returned to escalate issues.
My daughters’ experiences:
1. Clothing doesn’t fit the description (her fault in not reading clearly, or website fault?)
2. Wrong sizes arriving. Dad (me) has to return item to Post Office.
3. Links to return labels to stick on boxes were incorrect. Dad has to go home and google a more accurate label so the Post Office can accept the return.
4. Shoes just arrived yesterday that were silver, even though the order was for Rose Gold. The label stated Rose Gold. The box stated Rose Gold. The shoes were silver. Dad has to arrange return.
So what can you do with your online store to ensure this runs smoothly for you? Online purchasing by your customers will keep your overhead down, and perhaps reduce your wage cost, but not if you need staff to handle returns all the time.
1. Ensure your online enquiries, comments and questions are responded to as a priority. We should reward customers that post enquiries online rather than calling your call centre. In my call centres, if the phone lines opened at 9am, I ensured that after hour enquiries were responded to by 9am. That may mean having 1 or 2 staff commencing work at 8am, 8.30am, or even only 8.45am. It all depends on your call centre’s call volumes.
2. Don’t just rely on an online FAQ’s page. Allow people to actually and easily lodge their own questions. Unless you’re Amazon or eBay!
3. Ensure stock levels of your online store covers your retail stores stock. Even if you have to do manual intervention to get a product from a store to send out to a customer, then do so. The customer need not know the manual intervention of having obtained their items but they DO need to feel like online shopping is the way to go, to convert them for future purchases.
4. Descriptions should be clear, concise and hopefully dot points, to make it easier to read.
5. On most occasions, once a problem occurs (online or any problem, really), it’s about how your staff deal with the issue that counts.
6. In some of my call centres, I have been responsible for online sales, and on others, I haven’t been (it belonged to Marketing, or Warehouse). But for me personally, whether responsible or not, I AM responsible for customer service, so I WILL either ensure that online sales and enquiries run smoothly, or liaise with my colleagues to ensure that they do so. It’s called Stakeholder management. I will liaise with Marketing, with Warehouse, with IT Dept to ensure that my customers’ experience is what it is expected to be.
Which leads to be final point.
7. KPIs. What are your KPIs for measuring this? I don’t need surveys. I don’t need Net Promoter Scores. I can clearly and easily measure percentage of online enquiries/complaints or post sale enquiries as a percentage of total enquiries. I can easily measure returns or repairs as a percentage of total sales. And then I aim to reduce it. If these aren’t KPIs given to me when I join an organisation, then I make it a KPI. End of story.
I know that the online stores with which I have had issues will not be given a second chance. I’d rather move on to another store.
What issues do you have when ordering online, compared to issues your customers have with your online ordering system?