A year ago I wrote a blog entry about a poor experience while shopping online … in that case I had ordered wine to be delivered to family in the UK in time for Xmas, and it didn’t happen. Almost two years ago I had a similarly bad experience, for slightly different reasons, that involved having to pay multiple times for a hamper that never did end up being delivered!
The theme of both entries was that when things go wrong in the online shopping world it appears that getting resolution can be very painful … which is the kind of thing that will turn consumers off if it happens too often. In other words Customer Service is a critical component of any online shopping experience … probably even more than in traditional buying situations, and the importance of good customer service has been a continuing theme of this blog. (One of my recent blogs roasts a “nameless” supplier to Eagle for their incredibly bad customer service.)
So … I think it is only fair that I tell some of the positive stories around my experiences with online shopping, because I am actually a huge fan of the convenience afforded by ecommerce.
This holiday season we were more organised than previous years, and that was largely because of the ability to shop online during those odd times of the day and night when we actually had time! The euphoria of being ahead of the game was a little deflated when our Best Buy order did not arrive in time and we were forced to buy it all again at the local Best Buy store. Certainly frustrating but at least when we returned the “internet bought” shipment to the store we did not get any hassle even about the shipping charges … which felt like an OK outcome.
The highlight of the season for me had to be Amazon’s UK website through which I was able to deliver numerous gifts, mostly gift certificates, to my family “across the pond”. Their painless and fairly efficient system meant that 90% of my UK shopping was completed in short order. Even when there was a hiccup, due to an email being inadvertently deleted by one of my family members, Amazon were quick to respond and all was fixed with “no fuss”!
In the last year we have bought items from ebay with no issue, we organise our vacations and book airline tickets, hotels, rental cars etc. very regularly (often through expedia) in addition to through the various company’s own sites. We have ordered goods from electronics companies, big box retailers and department stores, I have sent wine (despite my previous experience). The experiences have almost exclusively been very positive and I would suggest that the ecommerce world has matured to the point where it is becoming indispensable to those who have become regular users. It has also come a long way with those customer service issues, and that is always going to be a challenge for online vendors.
So … if you are not a regular online shopper then it may well be time to go for it!