Category Archives: fail

The Perils of eCommerce

Even when you think you’ve got a solid handle on eCommerce, the basics can still catch you out.

Here’s a classic example. Alas, it’s not a quaint historical tale — the item was received today, from a New Zealand operator who we’ll allow to remain anonymous.

The item carried this pricetag:

You’ll note the markdown, from $39.98 to $9.99. Nice — except that the discounted price on the website (and the price we were actually charged) was $19.99.

We bought two of this particular item, in different colours. The second item just bore the original pricetag, $39.98, with no Clearance sticker.

Sloppy Logistics

We absolutely champion the right of this online retailer to manage its pricing; it may well be that the price on this item was reduced to $9.99 on the 3rd of January and has since returned to $19.99, still a good price against an RRP of $39.98.

However the product packers should be, ahem, ticketed themselves for sending out a product bearing a clearance sticker. The packing slip bore no pricing; it’s entirely possible that the product could have been ordered at full price, which would have resulted in even more annoyance when the item was received by the purchaser.

The result of this sticky oversight: we thought we were getting a good deal at $19.99 — now we don’t. Now we consider we’ve overpaid by ten dollars an item. (Fortunately, a phone call to the seller has resulted in an equitable solution; unfortunately, it involves a trip to one of their retail stores, an outcome we’d aimed to avoid by ordering online in the first place).

Strike #2

This is the second strike against this particular merchant for this particular order; when we ordered these items (and a couple of others), the total came to around $92, with shipping calculated at a flat $10 more. Regrettably, it was only AFTER we’d confirmed the order and paid that we were reminded that shipping is free for items totalling $100 or more. We’d spent a total of $102, but had paid for shipping — if we’d realised, we’d have happily gone back and purchased something else, probably going above $102 in the process. Likely result: increased basket size, happy customer.

The website shopping cart should have been equipped with appropriate triggering code, to alert us to the fact that, just by spending a few more dollars, we would qualify for free shipping. If that was a technical difficulty, then a Free Shipping link would have been a very useful alternative.

Yes, the front page of the site does talk about free shipping, but visitors need to click through if they want more details:

Since the free shipping offer is really straightforward …

*If you spend $100 or more in a single transaction, we will deliver this to you for FREE. It’s that simple.

… why not just spell it out, with a small box on the front page and on every page of the website (including the shopping cart pages)?

Telling us after the sale is a surefire recipe for Buyer Remorse.

Free Shipping is the single most important offer you can make, to close the sale. If you’re going to make the offer, shout it from the rooftops (or at least from within your shopping cart).