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A lockdown tale of two ecommerce orders

ecommerce lessons learned

Since lockdown began, ecommerce activity is through the roof, many people are working from home and the postal service and couriers are slammed. Here are two drastically different ecommerce experiences – the names have been changed to protect the innocent (and stop me getting sued).

Order one: IT accessory (£40)

Working from home and using computers all day every day, IT kit is very important to my productivity. I needed a new Thing, so went on Amazon, realised I don’t want to help Jeff get any richer, went on eBay, lost the will to live and then had the bright idea of checking a local big box merchant. They had the Thing I wanted and at a keen price, but it wasn’t in stock at the local branch. They could get it there ON THE SAME DAY however, so I immediately bought it with a quick, easy checkout process. I got a text later that day saying I could go and fetch it. Wow.

Order two: New laptop (> £40)

My old laptop’s battery has given up and it’s not really powerful enough to be my main work machine any more. I could have bought direct from the manufacturer with next day delivery, but chose to support a local supplier whose head office is cycling distance from my house. Sadly they don’t have stock at their HQ but never mind, I can buy online. “In stock for next day delivery” and a good price too – let’s go. I got stuck on their annoying checkout, and then a sketchy looking iframe popped up to take my card details. Even though I have used these guys before and trust them, this just feels like it’s not going to work. Eventually getting through checkout, the order was placed and I am excited about my new kit.

Delivery day comes and nothing from the supplier or courier. I use the tracking page on the courier’s website and it says they can’t find my address. I gave my phone number, just ring me! I contact the courier and get an automated corporate reply. I can’t get through to anyone at the supplier and they are not monitoring their Twitter – it’s just automated sales Tweets. Bank holiday weekend comes and goes, still no word from the supplier or courier despite repeated emails. It will be a week since ordering tomorrow and I still haven’t heard whether it’s coming or not. Either the company, the courier, or both are dropping the ball here.

I get it that there’s a global pandemic, bank holiday weekend, everyone’s working from home – not the smartest time to order. However a quick email sympathising and saying they will get it solved would have worked wonders. If they can’t fulfil an order for next day delivery then they shouldn’t advertise it. I should have just ordered from the manufacturer.

What’s Your Point?

The reason I mention these two examples is that the ecommerce landscape is cutthroat and if you’re thinking of getting into selling online, there are some lessons to learn here.

Some companies have outstanding checkouts, cutting edge logistics and communications – see example one. Some companies just don’t appear to care – see example two. You’re probably going to be up against companies like the former and if you want to make a go of it, your order and fulfilment processes need to be smooth and trustworthy. Having a fast, user tested site, accurate stock levels and a reliable courier with up to date delivery estimates is essential to keep your customers happy.

Even with the current work from home situation, keeping customers in the loop about their order process and showing some sympathy will go a long way in keeping them happy and returning to buy from you again.

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