The Importance of assuring a great online shopping experience

What today’s consumer expects after choosing your business through all the e-commerce noise

Or do I?…….

I just recently wrote a blog about experimental retail and in it I gave a mention to Nike’s bold moves in cutting out suppling third party retailers in an attempt to centralize their business to Nike stores and As we know everyone is trying to consolidate their fans and persuade them to shop directly with them or what we know as DTC. This is a strategy that will ideally negatively effect other brick and mortars such as big department stores by limiting their selections and will hopfully help the brand using this method with traffic declines brought on by Amazon and other online giants. Nike being one those brands looking to compete as they’ve generated 12.5 billion in DTC in 2020 and look to shoot for the moon.

With that being said I was tempted to explore Nike’s ability to compete with Amazon online as I am a dedicated Amazon prime consumer. With the CrossFit open being in full swing I saw a pretty cool HWPO (Mat Fraser) T-shirt that I really wanted for this weeks Crossfit Games quarter final workouts. I also saw an amazing vintage style Chicago White Sox hat that took me back to the days of Robin Ventura, Frank Thomas, and Carlton Fisk. Beside the Yankees, this was my second all time favorite baseball team for sure! With all that being said I was super hype about my order.

That same day I placed an order on Amazon for some shoes, shorts, and a pack of Tommy Hilfiger tees. As expected being a prime member that night I received a notice that my Amazon order was being prepared. Next morning my order was in route and set to come in on time. I went to just to see what my order status was as I received an email that morning notifying me they too had received my order. The website slated me for an ETA of April 8th. Being spoiled by prime, I felt this was a long time away, but I was fine with it because I know this is not Nike’s bread and butter, and comparing them apples to apples is just not fair. On April 6th I notice I had no word from Nike via email or text. So once again I find myself on tracking my order status. With no UPS tracking number set, or change in status, Nike still had my order as expected to arrive on April 8th. Okay I thought, let’s see. On April 8th as I kind of expected I receive the dreaded email titled “Your order ship date has changed” the post stated there has been a delay and they will let me know when my product is available. When going back on the sight on April 9th my order was still expected to arrive on April 8th. Now I was confused and a little disappointed.

So I decided to further test the online experience with Nike by asking to chat with an online representative. I chose to “start a return” and put in the comment box “My order is taking way too long and I want a refund”. I was immediately forward to a rep who of course wanted to retain the purchase.

She looks into my account and say my order is now expected to arrive on April 16th. She asked me “would you like me to still cancel your order or do you want to wait it out”.

Well I heard all that before so I ask “Is my product in stock today?”

She replies, “we have a few hats left and your shirt is in stock today”.

So I then ask “so why can’t my order ship sooner since my order was placed back on March 26th.”

Her response was what turned me from disappointed customer to a slightly infuriated customer. Her response was “Well then will you like me to just cancel your order.”

Now to be honest knowing my product is “in stock” I did not cancel my order, but the arrogance of this brand (as I know the rep is doing what she is trained to do) leads me to believe Nike is saying I am going to force my customer to come shop with us, and since they are shopping online, and we already have their money, we are not obligated to offer a higher customer service expectation.

Shortly after this experience I tweeted to Nike “If you truly want to be a one stop DTC destination for your brand maybe you should start by assuring your product arrives on time” with a picture of the email they sent me. Of course with no response.

Now why should I buy with when I can still buy their product on Amazon. Or better yet why should I buy from them at all with all the other brands available. If the strategy here is to combat diminishing brick and mortar traffic by forcing customers to their brand, Nike should realize what is causing this is the spike in online consumption and should assure their E-commerce experience is second to none, not just expecting the scrounging up of the DTC scraps is going to make all the difference. Sorry Nike that’s just my opinion after my poor experience.

So with all that being said here are my top five online shopping experience expectations:

1. Elevate your CX to the highest level

If you are a brand selling your product online you are taking the product out of your associates hand and letting your E-commerce experience speak for your business. What happens when your customer has questions, or your site has failed to meet that customer’s need? Is it enough to have a rep on a chat box? No, you need to have your best and most experienced brand ambassadors behind that chat to minimize poor experiences from become a large online social crisis. Remember online reviews are written in ink. If your rep fails to meet that customers expectation that customer may never come back.

2. Get your product to the customer onetime or ahead of schedule

Once a customer picks your brand verses all of your competitors, you better come through! Remember someone just spent their hard earned money with you, just because you can’t see them, or hear them, they’re there, they’re telling their friends about you, they are excited about your product, and can’t wait to make it their own. So when you promise them this product by a certain time you have to make sure you are able to deliver. With most e-commerce having omni-channel capabilities, big logistic ability, and a staff waiting to pick orders as fast as they can come in, todays consumers have an elevated trust in the brands they choose to get them their orders on time. One bad experience can jeopardize it all. And in the event you expect delays, it is even more important to get to your customer ahead of time and not only explain the reason for the delay, but also what you’re doing about it. Make that customer fell like they’re the most important part of your business because THEY ARE!

3.Control Your Inventory

Supplying your demand is the biggest part of getting your Omni-channel experience to flawless expectations. It can also make you seem unreliable when done incorrectly. That is the last thing you want as an online supplier. If your product is coming DC or Store to door your plan to control your inventory is crucial. Your shipments must be executed on time and done right. Your counts must be up to date and correct. Your supply must meet your sales trends. Most important your staff must be trained to be fast, efficient, and organized. Your customer doesn’t see or care what happens during the process, they just want to know when they buy from you, you can deliver and deliver on time, and if you say you have it, then you should absolutely make sure you do!

4. Beautify the condition of the product when it arrives

Imagine if after waiting this long for my Nike order, when it comes in it is damaged, missing an item, the item is the wrong size, or all together wrong. How upset do you think I will be? Pretty dam upset for sure. Your inventory team has to be trained to understand the importance of this. A great best practice is to have a two man solution. One person picks the product, the other packs and ships. This significantly decreases the chance of human error. Beside the right product, is the right packaging. Is the product neatly placed in the box? Is the wrapping attractive? Is the box appealing? One of my favorite brands to order from is Apple. There is something so beautiful and minimalist about their product and packaging. I also love that most of their products come with that simple and sleek apple sticker. The packaging your product comes in should maintain the happiness of the buy even before the customer opens it. At times if the packaging has been right I’ve let it sit for hours before I’ve opened my order. Hey Nike this could be your chance to get me back!

5.Following up on the customer experience

Finding out how your customer experience is being delivered is critical to your continued success or to capitalize on your opportunities. You want to get it right and you want to compete. It is extremely important to keep and open mind and look at your critics as a means of inspiration. Also asking your customer for their feedback makes them feel cared about and empowers them to share their most important ideas. Embrace feedback and expect your team to do the same.