Even before I got involved in supply chain and logistics I found myself frustrated by the lack of connectivity between different parts of the business. Online and the store, the store and head office, customer service and the delivery team. Did these people not talk to each other, did they not have systems enabling them to share information?
How could a business allow a person in their employ to say bold faced to a customer ‘that’s a different part of the business’ … Seriously? In today’s digital world?
As a consumer shopping in a store I want and need the staff to know when they can get their hands (or more importantly my hands) on an item that is out of stock. Retailers need to empower their staff to be able to see stock available online, to be able to state confidently what is arriving in that delivery on Monday and to be able to impart that information to me, the customer, straight away.
I can remember three distinct scenarios just this year where three major retailers failed abysmally to reach any kind of seamlessness in my customer experience:
Back in January I ordered a car. A brand new car as it happens. They were unable to give me anything but a provisional date stating that until the transporter arrived on their forecourt they couldn’t be sure what would be delivered. We’re talking here about a car, a relatively large, significant purchase both in size and monetary value. Surely somebody loaded it onto the transporter and there was a data trail to that effect? Why could that information not be shared internally?
Then in March I’m buying shoes for the children. That lovely pink pair that my daughter had to have were sold out. Did they have them online? Store staff couldn’t tell me, stating emphatically that their .com business was run separately and they had no idea what was or wasn’t available. They lost a sale that day, I found the shoes down the road at their competitor.
Which brings us into the pet store just last weekend where I was attempting to purchase a matching collar and lead for my beloved Ridgeback. Nope, out of stock but good news, there was a delivery coming in Monday …. The only problem was that nobody, not even the store manager, knew what was in the delivery and whether the desired product would be arriving. Another lost sale, I went to the local pet store and found what I was looking for.
Simply put, if you can’t advise me when I’m going to get my stuff then I’ll go and find it somewhere else… right now. Access to inventory information and the ability to assess its availability is a critical element of ’saving the sale’. I know there are systems out there that can meet my expectations and at some stage all consumers will realise the same.
Or maybe I am just too demanding for the current retail community.
Do you think my shopping expectations are realistic?