• United States
Contributing Writer

Mailbag: Shopping shouldn’t be so difficult

Oct 30, 20034 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Your thoughts on shopping in-store vs. online

There’s nothing like that feeling when you receive in your in-box the perfect response to the dilemma put forth. I received just such a response to my in-store/online shopping dilemma.

A reader writes: “The end of your message asks what I think.  Answer: Waaah.

“You want the best of everything, it would seem – the e-shopping-model price for the brick-and-mortar *value.*  The online experience didn’t give you the comfort level of shopping in the store, right?  If it had, you wouldn’t have headed to the store in the first place without ordering first.

“So you went to the store to learn about the options and determined on-site what

product you wanted.  But you don’t want to pay more for that benefit?  Since you’re already at the store, which clearly requires operating $$ to provide your comfort level, you don’t want to have to go home and order it.

“Sheez, you’d have to go back to the store to pick it up, right?  Let’s see now.  You used the store to pick out what you want.  You’re at the store.  You can take immediate possession of the product.  And because you checked the price on the Web site prior to choosing to go to the store, you have been given knowledge of the cost associated with comfort-level and immediate possession (not to mention service).

“All the while you still have the option of going home to order the product online, if you needed to save what, five bucks on the scanner.  In this case, for all this convenience the store is out $5. But wait, you didn’t even have to go home, did you?

You could order it ‘online’ right in the store.  So the store gives you *everything* except a pager [like popular restaurants might use] to notify you when your order is ready. Is that dis-service?  Does the problem lay with the business model?    Waaah.  Waaah back at you. Perhaps you’re right, though.  The company should remove its offer to pick up the merchandise from a store. After all, it’s bad business to offend customers who can’t recognize the value they have already received.”

Touche! A very well-put argument: operating costs should factor into pricing. However, I would argue back at you that if the corporation as a whole wants to own both the Web site and the store, they should take the pressure off the store to absorb that cost. They should somehow work it that if the sale was generated from online, then the cost should be shifted.

Another reader makes a good point about the state tax issue. The reader says: “You’re right, online and the bricks and mortar branding and merchandizing mix should be integrated at least for the choice of the consumer. I am consistently surprised at the lack of customer service skills out there (even in this tenuous economy) and if I were this electronics retailer-management team, I would want to earn your business and match the online price considering you are paying additional for the state tax to off-set some of the shipping costs if purchased online.”

One reader shared another instance where the bricks-and-mortar and online experiences did not mesh well.

She writes: “We had a similar experience . . .  We ordered a cable modem through the Web site, but it was defective.  On the back of the packing slip/return form, it told us to save mailing costs and take it back to the store.  Silly me, I did.  They couldn’t return it; their system couldn’t handle it.  When I started asking questions and insisting that they ‘figure it out’ and get a manager, they threw me out of the store.”

Wow. I can honestly admit I’ve never been thrown out of a store for anything, but something tells me if I keep pushing the online/in-store integration issue, I might be joining you curbside. Any other good stories, send ’em my way at