Online ordering: Some companies just don’t get it
In the past week, I’ve run into two different companies that obviously haven’t the first clue about running their online presence. I’ll bet that this is just the tip of the iceberg, but there it is.
Online ordering with store pickup
Fry Electronics doesn’t get it. The point to online ordering with store pickup is to save time. Unfortunately, using Fry’s store pickup by ordering online saves you no time. In fact, it takes more time than just buying directly in the store and leaves more questions than answers.
I found an item on Frys.com web site that I wanted to buy and noticed they now offered store pickup. I thought, “Great”. So, I proceeded to place the order online. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a profile with Frys.com, so I had to create one along with entering shipping and billing info, credit card number and various other information they required. So, this usually takes about 5 minutes to complete. Granted, it doesn’t take that long to enter this information, but you’ll soon see that this time was completely wasted.
So, I enter the information they require, choose my store for pickup and click ‘Place Order’ like you normally do on any e-commerce site. So, the order is all placed, I have my receipt in hand and on the receipt it says to to remember to bring the card you used to the store. I think, “No problem”. I ordered after hours. So, I knew that I would have to pick up the order the next day.
The next day I take my printed receipt with the order number to the store, like they request. I walk into the store and ask where to pick up online orders.
The door greeter tells me to get in line and pick up the online ordered item at any cashier in the front. I thought, “Uh oh, this is not starting off well”. No dedicated desk means the cashiers will be completely inexperienced in this process and, to my lack of surprise, they were inexperienced. Anyway, I step up to the cashier and hand her the online receipt. She proceeds to type something into the register, looks confused about something and then tells me to hold on while she goes and locates the order.
Twenty minutes later, after wandering around and disappearing, she finally comes back with the item in hand. I could have wandered the store, found the item, visited a cashier and exited Fry’s in the time it took her to locate the item.
With item in hand, she proceeds to tell me that I need to finish paying for the order at her station. I’m thinking, “What?” I had thought I already paid on the Frys.com web site as I was given fully completed receipt for the order with a valid order number. So, I attempt to validate this information and ask, “I have to pay again? I thought I already paid on the web site”. She proceeds to explain that it’s not actually an order but a ‘reservation’ for an item. I asked, then why do I have to give fully detailed information (billing, shipping, credit card, CVV, etc) for a reservation? Of course, she’s a non-native English speaker and plays dumb like she didn’t understand what I said. So, I try to verify this again and she says that I won’t be double-charged (which is, of course, my first thought considering I had to provide my CC card info full and complete).
So, not only did they waste my time online asking for information they didn’t need to create a ‘reservation’, the cashier wasted 20 minutes trying to locate the item in the store which wasn’t picked and stored properly from my order. Worse, after walking out of the store, I still have no idea if my card is to be charged twice.
I head home and call Frys.com to clarify what the hell went on. I explained that what they are doing is less than clear and the whole process is time wasteful. Every other online order with store pickup system I’ve used at other stores charges for the order online and then only requires identification to pickup at the store. They might or might not even print a receipt. But, you definitely don’t pay for the item in the store like Fry’s requires.
Fry’s made major mistakes in this process. Wasting my time by making me enter all of that information, not properly picking the the item requiring the cashier to wander the store in search of the item, and then requiring the consumer to pay at the register for an item that already appears to have been paid. The additional mistake that Fry’s made was not having a dedicated pickup desk to handle online pickups. There is no reason to require the consumer to stand in line for a cashier. Online ordering with store pickup is supposed to save time. In fact, I probably doubled the amount of time that was needed to get the item. I would have been better off just heading to the store, finding the item and heading up to the cashiers to pay. What a waste.
Out of stock ordering
Virgin Mobile doesn’t get it. This issue isn’t limited to Virgin mobile, it just happens to be the most recent example of this problem. So, I decide want to buy one of Virgin Mobile’s MiFi 2200 devices. I visit the site and try to place the item in my cart. Instead, I see a red error message that says ‘Sorry, that item is currently unavailable’. It doesn’t say anything about being out of stock. Just that it is unavailable (whatever that means). Ok, here’s the issue. If the item is ‘Out of Stock’, that’s fine. Just tell us this. No cryptic messages.
Even if the item is out of stock, but you know you’ll have more back in stock tomorrow, then take the order against the future stock. The mistake here is that Virgin has lost a sale. I may not come back tomorrow and purchase. I want to purchase today. I made the decision to purchase today. Tomorrow I may change my mind and go with something else. In fact, I may go with something else simply from the stupid fact that Virgin mobile wouldn’t sell it even when it’s ‘Out of Stock’.
I called the sales line and the ‘sales rep’ proceeded to transfer me to the ‘Broadband help desk’. Where they transferred my call is not an order line. It’s a help desk / customer service portal. No where on the line does it say ‘Press 1 for sales’. In fact, it doesn’t mention sales anywhere on the line. So, I press on and get through to an operator. The first time I call, the representative on the ‘help desk’ tells me that there is web site trouble and I should order tomorrow (see Virgin Mobile first mistake above). I call back and the second person says the item is ‘Out of Stock’ and they should have them in ‘tomorrow’.
So, I’m at a loss. If you’re in a company selling online, an item is out of stock but you know it will be back in stock tomorrow, why would you want to prevent taking orders against that future stock? I mean, seriously, this is stupid. Just tell the consumer when they should be back in stock. The consumer can make the decision to wait or not. If you prevent ordering altogether, you’re losing sales.
You would think companies the size of Fry’s and Virgin Mobile would have their act together, but they don’t. Companies wonder why their sales suck, yet they don’t look at these convoluted processes that don’t work and that throw roadblocks in front of the buyer. So, instead of the buyer buying, we walk away and don’t buy.
Retailers, wake up. Just because you think a process is working for you, you need to reevaluate just how it impacts the consumer.