Free Toy? Toys for Tots Thanks You!


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Doing more with less can be a challenge in any industry but particularly in retail during the holiday season. Traditionally, retailers hire on extra temporary workers in their brick and mortar’s and this has been true for years. However this year we see an important shift I believe. Did retailers prepare properly by increasing staff at the distribution level?

According to Bloomberg: Cyber Monday spending on the Web rose 17 percent in the U.S. to a record $2.04 billion from a year earlier, according to researcher ComScore Inc. The Monday after Thanksgiving was the busiest Internet shopping day so far this year, topping Black Friday’s $1.51 billion in desktop Web sales, the data show.

We know that many retailers began their push for holiday sales earlier than usual (seeing Christmas decorations in stores as early as October). Deal sites added to Cyber Monday record sales as well educated consumers and social media/mobile shopping. Consumers can now check email and text message alerts for great deals and act on them while waiting in the car at a stop light or in a doctor’s waiting room.

One national retailer worked very effectively with a popular site called Brads Deals. There are hundreds of social media sites that showcase the best deals on the web and Brads Deals is one of the best. This particular retailer had a great deal on Zoomer Zuppies that was too good to pass up. I grabbed one along with thousands of other customers and it took a great deal of trial and error to get it to go through. Or so I thought. I knew I would not receive an email confirmation because that part of their process was broke (learned that with a previous order). A few days later I received 3 individual shipments of the Zuppies each with its own packing slip. I had changed my mind altogether about the toy and decided to go back to the store to return them. After standing in line for 20 minutes, I learned that I could only return 2. Once the Customer Service Manager took a look she discovered that one packing slip was printed twice in error and they had no way of returning the 3rd toy through their system without a unique packing slip number. I asked if she could check my credit card account with the store to see if I was charged for 3 and she said she could not do that due to privacy laws. She told me to keep the toy and said that most likely I was not charged. She was right. I decided to give the toy to Toys for Tots as a way to give back to someone in need because I felt bad to receive something without paying for it. However, I literally had no way to return it to the store.

Supply Chain will be an area for retailers who have an e-commerce site to evaluate and monitor closely next year. Mistakes are bound to happen, however mistakes like this nationwide can be quite costly for the retailer. Some suggestions may be:

E-commerce needs a mystery shopper program, as shown by an American Express study. That research revealed that 78 percent of consumers have cancelled a transaction or not completed an intended online purchase due to a poor customer experience on the website. At the same time, three out of five visitors indicated a willingness to try a new company or brand to get a better web service experience. How did my order get delivered? What was the return process like? Would I order from here again? Why or why not?

Mobile Surveys are easy to use and can be used as a post transaction interaction to be sure the customer experience was up to par. Amazon goes as far as to ask for a picture of the package to be uploaded right in the survey to see how it was delivered.

*As retailers react to customers’ demand for seamless shopping, the supply chain is taking on an unprecedented level of importance. Retailers are integrating order management systems and inventories across online and offline stores to efficiently fulfill customer purchases. Distribution centers have evolved from servicing only retail stores to efficiently reaching customers via eCommerce fulfillment, in addition to the traditional retail store base.

To enable fulfillment to consumers and retailers, distributors are expanding infrastructure to be strategically located near consumer bases and FedEx/UPS hubs. The eCommerce boom has intensified demand for these locations, driving the market towards capacity.

*Source: CBRE June 2013 data

Do you have an e-commerce site? Planning on starting one? Remember to evaluate that customer experience as often as you evaluate the customer experience in the stores. It could help to save you time and money.

Kathy Doering
CEO of Ann Michaels & Associates, Ltd. Experienced in evaluating the customer journey for business. I believe in using and trying new technologies to interact with the consumer, offer new and exciting engagement that no one else is doing. There has not been a better time to jump in and make the most of all the ways to listen, engage and measure the customer experience. After doing this work for over 25 years I have learned what works and what doesn't.


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