Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Netflix: Why Not Tell Us What Is New ??

Let me get this straight. I see some "news" stories this afternoon about Netflix for the coming month of February. What did they announce to the public?

An entire list of movies which will be "leaving" Netflix during the month of February.

Say what?

Do the big department stores publicize items they will stop carrying next month?

This makes no sense. I'm a monthly subscriber. If all I see are movies which are leaving the fold, why should I continue my subscription?

There is nothing in any of the articles I saw to indicate that anything will be added. Services such as HBO and Showtime, which often cost even more than Netflix, know to make a big deal about announcing what is coming each month. The purpose is to hopefully attract new subscribers while letting current subscribers know what each new month brings them.

If Netflix won't be offering as much during February, shouldn't they be lowering their price for the month?


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Does Cabela's Really Need To Sell Guns Online?

The news item that Cabela's is now offering in-store pickup for guns purchased online is disturbing for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, this would seem to indicate a big enough demand to take the retailer's time and attention in order to implement.

Next, it will be interesting to see if this retailer suffers any backlash from this decision. On one hand, the recent wave of violence around the world and mass shootings in the U.S. are reasons for some people to desire to purchase a gun. But on the other hand, there is a large number of people who have stronger feelings against guns being available to the extent that they currently are.

This company becomes the largest of the six national retailers (and keep in mind the word "retailers") who now sell guns online.

Although the increased number of consumers who wish to purchase a gun is understandable to some, making them more readily available on the internet, which should be a huge concern.

We shouldn't have to wait until there is an arrest of a gun owner for a murder case followed by the person arrested claiming their online ordering account was hacked for this to be stopped.

In this age when so many retailers and large companies are making it more and more difficult to have actual human contact and feedback via their web sites, we would like to think that making a dangerous weapon available via this avenue would be the least of their concerns.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Now Staples Begins Limits On Free Shipping

The news this week that Staples has joined many other major online retailers by implementing a minimum or limit on free shipping is still another step by retailers to make things more difficult for consumers.

It is another way that many major retailers are hurting themselves. Many large retailers no longer stock multiple versions of a similar item these days. It has gotten to the point where the "store" as we know it is becoming more of a showroom that hopes to sell us the floor model.

They figure that customers wanting something specific can easily order it online. And now, they are expecting us to pay EXTRA to order it and have it shipped to our door when it is not our choice.

If the retailer does not have the item in its store, they leave us with no choice but to order it online. In that instance, I see no reason why we, as consumers, should have to pay for shipping because they choose not to have it immediately available to us.

When this happens, and it is happening more and more, it is an inconvenience to us to have to wait several days to receive the item we want, regardless of whether it comes to our homes or if we need to return to the store in order to get it.

I'll say this again. If the retailer does not have an item they offer in stock, we as consumers should not be forced to pay extra to receive it days later. Yes, shipping costs money. However, getting items to their customers is a cost of doing business.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Online Retailing At The Expense of Stores?

The American Customer Satisfaction Index, a very reliable source of research and information, has revealed that their research shows a more than 5% increase in overall customer satisfaction with online retailers for the year 2014.


While this is good news for online retailers, I’m finding another aspect of their research to be a bit disturbing. During the same 2014 time period, this research also showed that overall satisfaction with “retail” actually declined 1.4% compared with 2013.


What this means is that consumers are less satisfied with physical retail locations, while feeling better about the online experience.


This is excellent news for the likes of Ebay and Amazon, and other business which are primarily online. My problem with this is that some of the major retailers, which achieved their financial status from having numerous large stores, are reducing their concern about their physical locations while beefing up the online attack.


Just last week I saw a story about the increased millions of dollars that WalMart is spending specific to its e-commerce operations in 2015. If and as the large physical location retailers push their online inventory to shoppers, they could very well be reducing the traffic to their actual stores. This would eventually mean fewer jobs and fewer customers going through their doors. Yet, at the same time, WalMart, Target, and Meijer appear to have increased a portion of many of their retail stores which sell grocery items.


It would appear that the strategy is to give local residents reasons to come in to the stores at least once per week for grocery shopping and “move” the other items to online. As more and more grocery and related items come to the shelves, it means other items are being removed, and likely kept in the warehouses to be sold online.


The view from here is that consumers should have a reasonable choice between the physical location and online. Some enjoy the “touchy feely” ability to be able to go in and look at a product, compare it with others nearby on the shelves, and be able to head right home with their purchase. Not everyone wants to deal with shipping costs and waiting for days before their item arrives.


Too many of the large retailers don’t see this as a problem. They should. Many of them still advertise the convenience and availability of their inventory online. However, it still takes too long for orders to be shipped out. They don’t care, but consumers should.


If it is their business to sell anything online, they should have the staff in place to ship it out within 24 hours at the most. This crap of ordering something on a Monday and then wait until Wednesday to receive a “Your item has been shipped” e-mail needs to stop. Consumers should not have to pay extra for expedited shipping. If they can’t ship it out right away, then don’t have it available online.


As it is, the online “people” and the in-store “people” don’t always work together as it is, even though it is the same company.


Here is an example. Two weeks ago, we decided to get a new printer for our office. I went online and found a couple of possibilities, and then discovered that, on that day, Office Depot had the best price by more than $20.


Using their “Check availability” feature, it turned out that the most convenient store had only one of them in stock. Not wanting to take any chances (at that price), I ordered it online for “same day pickup” at that store.


After receiving my confirmation e-mail and going in to that store about two hours later, they store associate “could not find” my order in the store. She then called her manager who realized that the printer was still on the shelf and was never processed for pickup. The manager went and took the item from the shelf, entered the data, and after a roughly ten minute wait, I left the store with my printer. A ten minute wait with nothing more than a quick apology.


I still wonder what would have happened had that specific printer been sold during that time. But that isn’t the point.


The online service by a lot of retailers needs to improve drastically. However, it should not be improved at the expense of reductions of store inventories either. We need for the consumer satisfaction levels to be on the increase at BOTH the retail and online levels.







Monday, December 29, 2014

Why Have Online Retailer Satisfaction Levels Dropped?

It is hard to believe that many in the industry are surprised that customer satisfaction ratings for major online retailers are down again for this year. Maybe the people that analyze the data and/or write the recaps do not order very much from major online retailers.


What is ironic is that the latest statistics came out within hours of separate research showing a noteworthy increase in the amount of mobile shoppers during the 2014 holiday season.


Consumers appear to be more willing than ever before to make a bigger percentage of their retail purchases online. Yet, retailers appear as not being ready, willing, or able to catch up to the increased demand.


Solving this problem should be relatively simple for retailers, whether for an online division of a retail store or a primarily online entity.


For the retailers with stores across the nation, such as Target, WalMart, and Best Buy, they all need to make their online wing more of a priority than it appears to be. They often fail to realize that their customers expect these web sites to be updated and provide necessary information at all times.


We the consumer should never again have to experience going through the steps of logging in and entering information to order a product to THEN learn it is “out of stock” or “not available”. It is really time to start complaining to the Federal Trade Commission every time this happens. Retailers should not be allowed to advertise an item if they can’t provide it immediately. Or at the very least, tell consumers they can’t get it right away at the beginning. If they are willing to wait, let it be by choice ahead of time.


There are more reasons why the likes of Amazon and QVC are also among the online retailers showing a drop in consumer satisfaction. Sorry, but when selling products online, especially when online only (such as the two just mentioned), these retailers should always be ready to ship immediately.


When ordering something online, we should EXPECT immediate shipment. The retailer is supposed to have the item(s) ready for immediate sale, expect orders, and have arrangements in place to ship within a few hours. If the order is placed at 3 AM, and the location is closed until 8 AM, the notice of shipment should come by e-mail no later than 10 AM.


If a retailer is not staffed enough to handle a large amount of orders, that should only be the case for one day until help is called in. It isn’t hard to hire people to box and send items these days. If a retailer has so many sales it can’t keep up with shipping, it means they are generating enough revenue to hire enough workers to keep up with production.


As The Frustrated Consumer sees it, with more consumers ordering online, there should be fewer delays in the fulfillment of orders.


I happened to order something via Amazon a couple weeks ago, and waited more than a week to receive it, when the “Your Item Shipped” e-mail didn’t arrive until the second business day after it was ordered.


Before I received the package, I received a follow-up “Satisfaction Survey”. What did it ask? It asked how I liked the packaging.


Great! Amazon was more concerned about the packaging when it took them more than two days after the order was placed to send it. If only they were half as concerned about the time it supposedly took to package it.


Now it is “news” that Amazon is among those companies with a lower customer satisfaction rating.


Hopefully this situation will improve. Of course, we won’t know for a while. I’m betting it will take them several business days before any of their decision makers decide to read the research.


For those that missed it, here is one of the stories about this:








Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pulling Out The Staples

It's one of those seemingly minor things that the majority of people don't give a second thought to, and don't complain about. Not complaining about consumer issues is not a good thing.

For the past few years, Staples has been among office supply sources offering a credit for returning finished printer cartridges to their stores to be recycled. Just a few weeks back, I got a $6.00 credit for bringing in three of my recently used cartridges.

Last week, I was going in to Staples for something unrelated, and, of course, used the opportunity to bring in two finished cartridges. When I handed them over, I was then told that "the program has been changed". The rep said something about how much I need to buy over a period of time, and told that I would not receiving any credit for these. Sure enough, my receipt showed "$0.00" for my returning the cartridges.

It is true that a $4.00 credit isn't worth this time time to deal with. But that isn't the point. Staples had been giving these credits for a few years (that I know of). If they were giving away "too many" of these credits, it really meant that they had a successful promotion to guarantee return business. If they weren't giving away very many of these credits, there shouldn't have been any reason to mess around with this promotion. This was not something they only did on a limited basis.

However, this action hurts them more than it hurts me. I can simply start throwing out my finished printer cartridges, and not have a reason that in the past would get me to go specifically to Staples. For years, I would often go there even though their nearest location to both my home and business is further than a couple of their remaining competitors.

This is nowhere near as strange as when OfficeMax did away with their Perks program a few years ago and took away a huge reason for frequent shopping there. And it wasn't long after that when that company's problems began.

While it's true that these businesses don't have to provide regular customers with additional benefits, taking them away is another story.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Think Before You Promote

There is nothing wrong with AMC Theatres sending out special offers to its e-mail list. But there is something wrong with, on January 25th during the coldest winter in years, sending out a promotion for a free ICEE - when you purchase one. Oh my!

Granted, doing this is probably the least costly promotion they could implement, but the idea is to give people reasons to visit their theatres. It's a lot cheaper to stay home and enjoy a hot chocolate.