Disclaimer: I needed to vent. So this is me venting. Then preaching. And doing a list of suggestions on how to conduct your online business. If you’re interested in repeat-customers, that is. So here it goes.
Everyone a little closer to me probably knows of my love for peanuts. Not just roasted and salted, but also as peanut butter (spread generously on a piece of banana), chicken satay .. you name it, I eat it. And then there’s something I fell in love with only about two years or so ago: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Slightly salty peanut butter and creamy milk chocolate – match made in heaven, I tell ya. But there’s a dark cloud on the peanutbuttery horizon: You can’t get them where I live. The only way is to order them online. Of course, as a foodie, I’ve tried to recreate them myself. But they just don’t taste as good.
There are a couple of online stores that sell peanut butter cups, so I would’ve usually shopped at my regular shopping spots. But they all were out of peanut butter cups, AND out of a couple of other things my pantry ran low on. So I tried this shop I had stumbled across during a google search, it didn’t have any bad reviews. I’m not going to name names, of course. For the sake of this blog post, let’s call them $genericfood.
So I ordered a couple of things (this was in early August 2013), they all had a status of “in stock” and “delivery time 10 days”. I could live with that. So I ordered and payed via PayPal. After the order confirmation auto-mail, the shop went radio silent. For three weeks. That’s a little more than the 10 days promised in the shop. On the 21st of August I get a mail that a “part” of my delivery has been shipped. I received it about 6 days later. Instead of just sending the stuff that they had, they took the liberty of replacing ordered products with other brands.
After three days I wrote to the shop when I could expect the rest of my order to be shipped.. And they said “soon.. In two weeks or so?”. They sent it out on the 14th of September, another full 3 weeks after they sent out the first delivery. I received it today. And guess what? I still have not received everything that I have ordered.
I may be perceived as small-minded and petty, but this is something that really p%sses me off. A lot. Do those people conduct their business this way all the time? Or am I just an “unfortunate exception”? I don’t really care. I will not order at that shop again.
Well.. Dear $genericfood, congratulations on making me angry. It is something that usually takes a lot of willpower to do. If you are interested in keeping your customers, maybe you should read on and stick to the following set of “rules”:
1. Communication is Key
A customer does not appreciate being kept out of the loop when it comes to his order. It’s noble that you don’t spam your customer with a gazillion emails (slight exaggeration), but if you run into problems – like maybe you can’t keep your 10 days till delivery time – TELL THEM.
2. No Product Swapping
When a customer orders $something, they usually appreciate getting that $something delivered. They paid for it, remember? So if you can’t get ahold of a product, refer to rule no 1. Ask them if they want to wait until the product arrives, if they want to cancel the order, or if they can live with an equal replacement (in content, price, quality). You should ask them before just sending out a replacement. It might be that the customer has an allergy and needs this specific product.. and not just a replacement that contains an allergen.
Keeping Track of Order Status
If your Business is larger and you can afford employees to package shipments, teach them the importance of reporting back the order status. For example: I ordered an $article in a specific amount (e.g. 2 bottles of Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce). I received only one bottle. The delivery order showed that someone manually scratched out the “2” in the amounts column and wrote a “1” next to it. What should’ve followed is the employee going to the boss (or person that manages the order tracking system) and telling him “Hey boss, our inventory control system is wonky and instead of two bottles, we only had one bottle of hot sauce in stock. So I could only put one into the delivery. Please note in your order system that one bottle is still outstanding.” Well, it didn’t happen. According to the second delivery order I received today, no hot sauce was outstanding: the order system thought that the two bottles had been delivered.
These are the main rules that every business should adhere to. If you can think of another one, let me know in the blog comments, on facebook or twitter. See you!