AdvertisingBrandingDigital MarketingPublic RelationsWebsites

Shopping Carts & Customer Service: An Online Shopper’s Perspective

By December 13, 2011 No Comments

I’m a working mom with a one-year old and we live an hour from the nearest mall, so I don’t have a lot of opportunities for shopping trips. I also have 17 family members on my gift list so I do A LOT of online shopping. However, I rarely buy if I’m not getting free shipping. So if you have a shopping cart on your website and are offering “deals,” make sure you make the experience easy and follow through on what you’re promoting.

Here are a couple of recent encounters I’ve had. I’ve purposely not used actual website or brands because it’s not necessary to make my point. My biggest upset/experience started with a new product I read about last spring in Parents Magazine. It was a case that fits your iPhone so that your toddler could play with it but not press the home button. There are all kinds of learning apps available for the iPhone and my daughter loves to mess with my phone so when I saw it mentioned in the new product section of the magazine, I immediately went to the website that was listed. Guess what? It was nowhere to be found on the site and no mention of it coming soon….NOTHING! Later on, I checked the site another time or two and gave up after another mom said she heard it wasn’t coming out for a while. That’s poor PR for the product brand and the website.

A few weeks ago, I received a catalog in the mail and guess what; there was the case, and only $15!  I went back to the website and noticed a 20% off everything offer for whatever you put in your “sleigh”. Right below that it says free shipping on orders of $75 or more! I have several kids to buy for and prices are looking the same or better than what I can get in the retail stores so I decided to get some shopping done, save 20% and get free shipping! Or so I thought.

I fill my sleigh and go to check out. I’m around the $76 range but it’s not showing the free shipping so I go back to the home page and re-read to make sure I understand the offers. I think I do, so I call customer service. The first person I speak with takes down my order and asks some questions then passes me to the next person. I then gave the next lady my story (and my email). She was nice but quickly said the website must say 20% off OR free shipping. I read the home page to her (which doesn’t say that) and she says there is nothing she can do but pass my comments along. I tell her it’s my first time to their site and it wasn’t a good experience (forgetting that I had been to the site months ago for the product I saw in the magazine). After figuring out that I would still get a better deal on these items if I buy online, I decide to move forward with my order. When I do, I get a handy little note that says I can add another $15 of merchandise and it won’t change my shipping so I decide to add another gift that I can check off my list. After I add this last $15 item, my shipping charges change to $0. Apparently, the offer was for free shipping with $75 after discounts were applied. Obviously the customer service person didn’t know this nor did I find it anywhere on the website.

My point of this story is to make sure your website and shopping cart are user friendly and that you follow through with what you’re promoting. Just think of all the promotional dollars that are spent to bring me to this website, only to have me frustrated and disappointed – then further aggravated by an uninformed customer service representative. And, don’t promote a product in a magazine until you have it available for sale. All in all, I was very disappointed with this shopping experience and even though I did make a purchase, it has changed my perception of this brand…and that is worth a lot.