When omni-channel commerce goes wrong (part 1)
Real customer experiences
There are many ways to perfect the omni-channel experience. Unfortunately the reality of the situation does not reflect this potential. Too often the branch stores and the online stores act like two completely divided entities that do not appear to be able to coordinate with one another or they handle various processes in a very cumbrous manner. I talked to a few of my colleagues about their personal omni-channel experiences and gathered a mixed bag of stories. Their very interesting accounts describe shortcomings in delivery details, burdensome bureaucratic processes and logistical difficulties - in virtually every industry:
#1 in a DIY store: “Tried to return an item and the problems began…”
“In a large German DIY store, my desired product was unfortunately out-of-stock. So I ordered it online. Five days later the package arrived at my home. So far, so good. Unfortunately the quality was subterrestrial, so it had to be returned. And that’s when the problems began. In my (at that time) preferred DIY store, it was possible to pick items up but not to bring them back to that store or the one around the corner. They weren’t even capable of giving me the time of day or forwarding a contact telephone number.
Well, as dumb as it may be, I have to earn money in order to spend it, so I cannot sit around the whole day just waiting for the UPS guy to ring my doorbell. And having the UPS guy pick up the package from my place of work, well that’s a nail-biter too when you work in a 30-story office building with at least that many other companies. We’ll see what happens. One thing is for sure – that was the first time and the last…”
#2 in an electronics store: “Met by a real bureaucratic mess when I went to pick it up…”
“Have you ever tried to order something online from an electronics store and pick it up from your local store – because for some bizarre reason it is significantly cheaper than buying it directly in the local store? A process-fetishist could really run riot there…
1. email confirming the receipt of the order
2. email of the acceptance of the order by the online store
3. email confirming the transmission of the order to the branch store
4. email (3 hours later) with the pickup slip and the confirmation that the product is ready for me to come get it. Walk up the stairs, turn right, grab it off the shelf, back down - 3 hours? Really?
And then I went to get it. First scan the pickup slip (which I had to print beforehand!) and remove the item from the shelf. Then enter the order number into the computer by hand, and print a copy of the pickup slip for their files. Then scan the pickup slip at the checkout again. Both slips had to be signed in order for the product to be released. Then the receipt had to be stapled to the slip - and then I could finally leave. No, escape in a panic is more like it. No idea what else might need to be scanned, printed and stapled.... "
#3 at a furniture retailer: “Where’s my stuff?”
“Ordered two chairs from an online pure player. Unfortunately, the details of the delivery time were not completely clear. The delivery should have taken about six weeks, the stock availability was not obvious. Six weeks later got the message that it’ll take even longer and that the chairs were not currently available. This message would have been desirable while I was placing the order, because if I had known that they were out-of-stock, I would have ordered the chairs from another retailer. The communication with the customer service hotline also proved to be difficult since they apparently don’t like sharing information either. It was impossible to determine with which provider the item was shipped (even after looking through the order information). By specifying a post office (because I don’t want to annoy my neighbors with a gigantic package) the package went back. After calling customer service and having to reorder the article, the package finally arrived at my home two weeks later. After all this back and forth, I would have at least expected a voucher as compensation.”
#4 in the fashion industry: “Unfortunately the online store was not optimized for mobile…”
I couldn’t find a particular dress in my size in a local store and the sales woman couldn’t tell me when the delivery with new merchandise would arrive, so I got out my smartphone and headed online. But the online store wasn’t optimized for mobile and the search for the product was so troublesome that I gave up, went home frustrated and placed the order using my laptop. It wasn’t possible to have the dress delivered to the local store, so instead I had to have it delivered to my home and pay the additional shipping costs. The whole process was so laborious that I never would have gone through it all, if I hadn’t really wanted to have this particular dress. The product arrived without any problems, but I am still annoyed that I had to pay the extra shipping costs. To this day, the dress has still not been restocked at my local store.”
These four accounts graphically show where we currently are when it comes to creating a true omni-channel commerce and how much potential for optimization still exists. In another article, I will go through the points that should absolutely be considered when developing a commerce strategy in order to improve the conversion rates of an online store.