Retail Needs To Follow Through With Website Promises Before It's Too Late

I love search and the features that Google and Microsoft have built into their respective engines. Often, when I search online for products, I want them now. It took me a long time to comply with the willingness to provide personal information such as my location, but I finally gave in. It saved me a lot of heartaches when stuck in traffic or when looking for products and services on a desolate road in the middle of nowhere when driving across the United States, often by myself.

I'm concerned about the reputation of retailers and brands as we head into the holiday season. Many are making promises they cannot keep. I have relied on certain services offered by Google Search, Microsoft Bing, Instacart and others.

Now those services are falling short, mainly because the retailer or brand cannot follow through. A couple I use quite often these days--the ability to search for a product, find it available in a store, buy it online, and to pick it up immediately or have it delivered same or next day. It seems like a simple concept, but it's not. 



The promises posted to websites such as product delivery and availability do not always match in-store availability or the actions of employees who can make it happen. And frankly, I’m getting a little frustrated.

These offers may seem simple, but when you’re pressed for time, it can make all the difference in the world. After spending so much time in rural Wyoming, I’ve come to appreciate the convenience of buy online-and pick up-in store (BOPIS) or next-day delivery, never taking the features for granted.

The IAB, in a recent report, suggests 4 in 10 consumers leverage buy-online-pickup-in-store or curbside pickup. And 77% of consumers now research online before they purchase offline.

In September, ChannelAdvisor released data around retail media advertising becoming essential to increase product awareness. I agree. I’m part of the 42% of consumers who have clicked on a sponsored or promoted ad that they saw on a marketplace or retail site in the past 12 months and then bought the product. It happened last week.

I am a Wyoming resident and have been for the past four or five years, as many readers know.  I kept the home in Southern California where my daughter and family live. I travel back and forth frequently. It gives me a place to stay when there. But my trips are quick and I rely on the fact I can get products fast. 

While I’m in Southern California I take advantage of the many convinces being in a suburb has to offer, expecting that the retailers will follow through with their promise of next day delivery or available for pick up on the same day as purchased when noted on the website. I love Instacart, but it’s not available where I live in Wyoming.

This trip, Staples and Nieman Marcus both failed in their next-day delivery promises, leading to not only loss of time and frustration, but cost of driving around trying to find the products I immediately needed -- a Seagate portable hard drive to back up my computer, so I can take files with me back and forth rather than my computer, and a pair of black shoes to wear to a funeral this week.

I specifically bought those two items last week, thinking I would have them last week, because the retailers promised me next-day delivery.

Customer service reps at both companies were very nice about it, but I’m still waiting for some of the products as of today. Staples did just deliver the hard drive after I called and threatened to cancel the order.

Today, MediaPost published an interview with Yahoo’s newly appointed CRO Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, who vows to give brands, Yahoo’s customers exactly “what they need.” I hope those words send a message to retailers to give consumers what you promise -- especially if it is written and posted on your website.

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