Hey Dick’s


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Occasionally I’ll write about a unique and personal customer service experience that represents a change I see happening in the marketplace. This past weekend such an experience occurred when I visited Dick’s Sporting Goods to return a workout top that I bought for my wife a few days earlier. I was intrigued and pleasantly surprised by the service I received. But most importantly, it clearly saved a sale and is therefore worth writing about.

My quest began in search of a different size. However, when the correct size was not on the shelf, I resigned myself to return the top for a full refund because I knew nothing else would fit the bill. In this moment, I was thinking that this purchase was obviously not meant to be and I had accepted the fact that I’d just have to take my money to another store somewhere, at some other time, who knows when…or maybe not even spend it at all…or spend it on something else. I imagine this thought process is common among customers who go shopping and who are “just looking” for something that catches their eye, but who aren’t really committed or emotionally attached to the purchase in any way.

So next, I walked to the counter to get my refund. I was already on to the next errand in my mind. However, after learning of my plight and my intensions, the cashier shocked me with his suggestion. He said, “We can check online, and if we have this item in the warehouse, then we’ll ship it to you for free.” I have to admit, I wasn’t listening very closely because it was unexpected. Cashier pleasantries are so cliché and I was running on auto-pilot. My conditioned response of, “No thanks” was on the tip of my tongue when I stopped myself. A customer service opportunity bell rang in my head and I shifted gears to a different response and kindly asked the young man to, “Say that again, please…”

So that’s what he did, word for word, and then I told him that I’d like to try that. Now, I wasn’t thinking about purchasing the workout top anymore. My brain had switched over into “business process improvement mode” and I was both curious and anxious to see how this attempt at a retail store “save” was going to turn out.

We walked over to a computer and he proceeded to log into www.dickssportinggoods.com. He entered the SKU number and it popped up on the screen. The size and color I wanted was in stock and I could get it in 2 to 3 days. He put it in the shopping cart and with some kind of override code, knocked off the shipping costs. Now, it would have been awesome if he could have just swiped my credit card and be done. But he had to type my name, address anDick's offers good customer experienced card info into the online form. It felt inefficient, but at least he was the one doing the typing. A minute later, I said, “Thank you very much!” and I was on my way. A few seconds later, the confirmation email hit my inbox and I was feeling good for two reasons: 1) I was getting the merchandise I wanted and I didn’t care if it came in the mail a few days later 2) I was pleased with Dick’s intentional effort to save the sale. They are clearly taking steps to combine the online and in-store experiences to create new opportunities for engaging customers. This is something I wrote about a few months ago here.

This is the new paradigm and I applaud Dick’s for getting on board. I’m sure other stores like Nordstrom’s have been doing this for years, but I haven’t seen many department stores like Dick’s doing it. Although, a friend recently sent me this hilarious Kmart commercial that invokes the same exact strategy. So, as a next step, here is my advice to Dick’s and other retailers: set up internet kiosks throughout the store so that I can take care of this myself the next time the right size or color isn’t on your shelf. This is where walking out of the store empty handed is a-okay!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Eric Camulli
As Vice President for 7signal, Eric is focused on helping organizations bring high quality and highly productive experiences to people using Wi-Fi networks everywhere. In today's connected economy, our dependency on robust, reliable Wi-Fi is paramount. Eric is dedicated to ensuring that companies deliver peak wireless performance so that they can compete in a marketplace exploding with wireless devices.


  1. Eric, I first suggested this about five years ago after I had a similar experience in a western wear store. I needed five pairs of jeans in the same size and brand; they only had one. When I blogged about it, their webmaster replied telling me that store managers saw their own web site as a competitor. I advocated changing the culture and the way employees were compensated and rewarded for directing customers online.

    I’m glad to hear Dick’s gets it. I wish more did.

  2. Thanks Glenn. It’s a big shift for retailers. But they need to wise up before Amazon.com becomes everybody’s one-stop-shop. Dare I say…I like shopping, meaning, I’m a tactile learner and only a retail store can offer this kind of positive experience, which is why I go to them when I need stuff. I’m excited to see how stores perfect the online-in-store experience over the coming years.


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