Sunday, 11 January 2009

Delivery - the Grim Reaper of online shopping

There's a florist at the end of the road my brother lives in Stornoway. They are a mile away from my folks. I want to send them flowers. They want to slap on their standard 5 quid delivery.
I notice their 'free delivery' service. I get this message:

Sorry, we are unable to deliver to this address. If it's possible to reach your recipient using a different address please enter this below and re-submit your order.

The florist is here. I want them sent here. There are only 2 junctions to take!

As this is not the only issue I have had this weekend with companies, I am left predicting that before this recession is over, many companies will have gone out of business and people will have lost their job because customers are walking away from transactions with hidden delivery problems, eg:

  • non-business transactions that use delivery companies that only deliver in working hours.
  • companies that charge unreasonable delivery charges (eg Argos charging over 5 pounds to deliver a wee card with 2000 wii points on it).
  • delivery companies that do not have collection depots open at non-working hours.
  • the UK mainland is just that - the main island of the UK. If the company fails to recognise this, and want to slap on extra charges and they have not said so, clearly and openly at the beginning of the ordering process, then I walk away. If the company fails to realise that pi55ing off the customer will result in the customer walking away, then they are in the wrong business.

The delivery of the goods is part of the transaction, not independent of it. Even though they are sub-contractors, if they screw up the delivery, then I will cancel the order and get my money back.

Because websites are the faceless, soul-less representation of the 'real world' company, people like me are less drawn to the high-street versions of a company with a poor website.

I want the whole shopping experience to be fun. It should not be a chore. If the shop - real world or online world - can't go out of its way to realise that, then they are in the wrong business.


I had thirty quid to spend on a wireless router today, one that would allow my Nintendo Wii access to the Internet. Clutching a 17-page printout of router reviews and problems, I left the flat at 0930 and arrived back at 1230. I had been in:

  1. Tescos (open early and a family shop)
  2. PC World (restocking problems after Christmas ... yup, I know it is the 11th of January)
  3. Staples (mainly a business retailer, so higher-spec/price kit)
  4. Comet (Kittybrewster)
  5. Currys (Berryden)
  6. Toys 'r' Us (I was getting desperate)
  7. Asda (just in case)
  8. Comet (The Links)

In the current economic climate it should not have been that difficult to have parted me from my money. If the world economy is taking a nose-dive, maybe the retailing sector should look at one issue – who in your business actually cares about selling your goods? The kids in the front line? The managers hidden in the office? The people who build the websites? The cluckers in the call centres? If you are a retailer, your core business is that: selling.

Get your act together or you are going under – you can blame the recession all you like, but the truth is that your customers are smarter than you think; want to speak to someone who knows the product (I can read an information card myself, thank you); and can spot when you are lying. A lot also have Internet access on their phones and can do their own price comparisons (I noticed about 100% price difference in a Wii game today, and 50% difference in identical hardware).

We all have lessons to learn in the next few years, the one from this weekend is:

Confusion can lose you a deal – KISS.

Prosperity and long life.


Sarah Kirkconnell said...

Very much so! There is rarely an excuse for lack of service.....

Free Printable Coupons said...

Get discount on shopping and save your money by using discount coupons.

Wandering Photographer said...

@ "Free Printable Coupons" - is there free delivery with that? ;-)

Many years ago I had dreadful delivery problems from a well known mail order company. The sub-contracted couriers lied outright about attempted deliveries and blamed me for not being at home. I complained to the mail order company who:
1. Promised to stop using that courier company.
2. Resent my order with a different courier.
3. Gave me vouchers as an apology.

The replacement order arrived first thing the next morning (at my work address) ... and then about a week later the original order arrived (accepted by my house mate).

I never ordered from that company again, even to use the vouchers.

John Hee said...

here here Duncan

My prediction - companies who don't deliver Product & Service together are about to find out some very hard lessons. Fo rtoo long delivering one or the other has been thought ok, if indeed they've even managed that.

Consumer is King once more in 2009? Or will they fall once again for the PR dross that passes for 'need satisfaction'these days

Mac E said...

Totally agree, I was able to get an order from Minibull shipped Airmail for $3, a UK tool supply company wanted £20 to ship a drill bit to N.I., okay they might have shipped for less if I'd phoned the order through but to be honest why bother if they can't make an effort.

I've had much better service from sellers on ebay including stuff shipped from as far away as the Ukraine than I've had from a fair few UK mail order companies.

Michael G Clark said...

I've posted the sweary edit on Dailymotion. It's so scary, and sweary.

Anonymous said...

A lot of companies think that price is king, and so cut customer service to offer lower prices. This is the Wal-Mart model of business in the U.S. The thing is, people are getting tired of being treated like commodities and some are starting to fight back.

Customer service is already king again in some places and I predict that will only grow. When money is this tight for a lot of people, they start to realize they deserve more for it.

AktoMan said...

It doesn't cost any more to have good customer care than to treat your customers badly. What some businesses don't see is that having confusing systems, complicated systems, etc is becoming noticeable. If we have to take things back, would we rather do it to a retailer that had simple, open systems, or one that didn't display prices, had no staff on duty who could tell us about a product, and switched off the escalators in their 24 hour shop. Or the online version - where delivery details aren't obvious, or the costs and availability show only after wasting time wading through pages of 'data'.

After Web2.0 we have the LiveWeb, where the web later overlays the real world layer. We will have shops that merge seamlessly between real and online. Our hand-held devices will guide us to the nearest or best-reviewed or cheapest in store. Amazon can do it with their stock and their sellers, why not in the real world?

Is the RW Layer above the Application Layer, or an extension of it? I don't know. All I know is that mankind uses technology as a tool, not something to fix or throw money at or waste time on. Life is too short, and computer systems are soulless.