If there is one thing that I learned this past holiday season, it was the user experience of online shopping. I had been shopping online for my family since November… continuously adding little things here and there to my cart instead of emptying out my bank account at one time, which usually happens in December. Overall, I was satisfied with my experience. All the items were received by Christmas and if there was a damaged item, most were very sympathetic and sent a replacement fairly quickly. Here’s a breakdown of my experience:
Amazon: 4 out of 5
The negative: Amazon takes little responsibility for their sellers. I ordered a duplicate item by mistake and caught it in less then 10 minutes. However, because this was sold by another seller on Amazon, I couldn’t go through Amazon to cancel the transaction even though it had only been 10 minutes. In the end, I got stuck with the duplicate item even though the seller said he would cancel the transaction and not ship the item. He still sent it and when I tried to return it, he stopped responding to my emails. Amazon did very little to assist with the issue.
Anthropologie: 2.5 out of 5
They have a great website that is visually appealing, easy to navigate and their buyers rate all the items right on the site so you can see what others are saying.
The negative: Their customer service and fulfillment could use a little bit of improvement. I ordered a new set of dishes and bowls as a “Merry Christmas to me” present. The first email I got confirmed my order. The next email came a few days later confirming the shipment, but with a different quantity of everything then what I actually ordered. That surprised me a bit because I didn’t get any notices that items were backordered— and let’s be honest, it’s dishes and bowls and I need certain quantities of everything! I can’t have 3 salad dishes, 5 bowls and 4 dinner plates. I immediately called the 800 number and was taken by surprise when the number didn’t work. I tried it again and still nothing. The third time it finally rang and I got through to someone. When I questioned the order (forgetting the whole fact that the 800 number was screwy) she said that just because my email says one thing, it doesn’t mean that’s the quantity that actually shipped. Say what?
Apparently, their fulfillment does things a little differently in the warehouse and often the numbers you see don’t always match because of stock reasons. So just because it says that only 3 shipped, it’s possible that 5 shipped. WTF? I would hate to be doing inventory in February in that warehouse! Not to mention, it took almost 4 shipments and three weeks to get all my dishes because of broken pieces being sent with the wrong replacements.
I love Anthropologie, but I’ll probably stick to ordering clothes online and save the glassware and large quantity items to in-store only.
Fry’s Home Electronics: 3 out of 5
To be fair, I didn’t actually buy anything from them. I was looking for a new flatscreen TV and was price shopping online to get the best deal. Supposidely, Fry’s had a great deal on TV’s, but you couldn’t actually see the price until checkout. Sure, I get that. Amazon and other online retailers have that same policy when items are below the manufacturer’s advertising price and you often have to add the stuff to the cart to see the price. Nope, not Fry’s. I added it to the cart and nothing. I had to create a user profile. After that, still nothing. It wanted my credit card information and said that the final price isn’t available until the transaction is complete.
SERIOUSLY? I’m not BUYING a TV just to see the price. No thank you. I exited the website.
In the end, I’m hoping that while more and more people are buying online, online retailers are adjusting their online user experience to make it a more pleasurable and an easy experience for buyers. Little things such as having a messed up 800 number when the lines backed up can leave a sour taste in a buyer’s mouth. I’d love to hear from some of you about your experiences. Did you have a horrible experience or a great one?