Retail store: Museums of E-commerce

Yesterday, I walked into a Titan store, spend 30 minutes browsing through the display and trying on the different models of watches (expensive bracelets as many youngsters now call it). The second I spotted the perfect piece, I immediately logged online, compared prices and bought it online.

Are stores becoming relics of the previous generation/centuries? It is common place for people to bargain on the mobile, tablets & electronics by showing the retailer online prices/discounts. Buying purely on specs is also in vogue, but still most people like to physically feel, test and use the product before buying it online. The retail shop has now become little more than a museums where people visit not to buy but for the physical experience of the product.

People are caring less about physical world and more about the virtual world. The man caught without the gadget probably ran out of battery or was pick-pocketed.

Recently a product RedMI 1s has bypassed the physical store, distribution & logistics completely and decided to sell exclusively online. (it sold more phones in 4 seconds than what established brands sell in months) 10 years ago Reva’s G-wiz was sold in London not through showrooms but through online booking for test-drives. Several retailers now charge “slotting fees” to the various brands for stocking, display and demos of the products rather than a commission on the sale. It would be long before high rentals of physical store will make them unviable.

Snapdeal: Lame ass excuses & unfulfilled promises

In business sometimes exogenous circumstances leads to failure to meet the commitment. I can understand that, but good people never make lame ass excuses or lie to their customers. And most customers respect them for their honesty. Snapdeal is neither snap/fast nor it offers a good deal/discount. I wonder what is the purpose of this store and why is it still in existence? 8 days ago I had placed an order ( Order ID : 1885222339) at snapdeal.com for “Eureka Forbes 4 Ltr Nano Aquasure RO Water Purifier” which this company promised to ship in 2-3 days. The company gave no intimation or updates to me and then when today I called them up to inquire about the status they email me this response.

Dear ankur aggarwal, You are receiving this notification because one or more items in your order: 1885222339. We at Snapdeal deeply regret the inconvenience caused to a valued customer like you, and extend our heartfelt apologies. We regret to inform you that our brand partner is unable to process your order due to unmanageable circumstances. We value your relationship as a customer and did not want to keep you waiting, so we are cancelling your order. We request you to treat this instance as an exception as we constantly strive to provide the best of service for our valued customers.

As you can see from the snapshot from the snapdeal portal (taken today), they have not stopped selling this item. In fact they are showing 10 partners  who are currently stocking it. Whats more they are giving them rating of 4.5 out of 5. I live on one of the main streets of Bangalore and not some remote area where no logistics partner can deliver. I also did not apply any discount/cashback/code which made it economically unviable for the company to fulfill the order.

This is the order summary page from Snapdeal.com

This is the order summary page from Snapdeal.com

This is an off-the shelf standard product which Eureka Forbes has not stopped making, Snapdeal has not stopped selling. Hence only logical explanation I can get is that this company is unable to manage its operations and it has been a complete waste of my time & efforts to even log on to it.

Snapdeal is a company without focus, mission or even a strategy. It was started by a bunch of day-dreamers who wanted to distribute discount coupons around Delhi. They failed miserably so they went online and created a deal website, which again they failed in so they went to venture capital and burned all the capital. Now they ventured into online retail which typical of Snapdeal is grossly mismanaged. I won’t be surprised if its 3rd avatar also shuts shops and goes under the gutter, like most of the e-commerce platforms. PS: I called up Croma and they are going to ship & install this product in my kitchen in 5 hours (Now that is called customer service)

tukknu.com : Order at your risk

Over the past 2 years several crappy e-commerce websites have opened up and unfortunately most of them don’t have an iota of customer service orientation. Tukknu.com is one of them.

1. Almost all the junk in their product catalog is Chinese seconds that nobody in the physical world will buy

2. I ordered 2 simple products on 28th of September and I am yet to receive any email from the website confirming order/invoice/payment receipt etc. Any simple acknowledgement would have sufficed

3. on 4th of October they said they dispatched the goods, but they did not publish the tracking no. or send me an sms (what good is this information)

4. As usual nobody picks up the phone or answers to any email that you send to follow up.

5. on 8th of October they publish firstflight courier tracking no (4 days). Which to no-one’s surprise is all messed up. It has been delivered to some SANTHU (who I have never heard of). Naturally their courier company is as customer friendly as the company itself and is failing to give me proper information.

I am just wondering “WHY DO I ORDER STUFF FROM ALL THESE NEW E-COMMERCE WEBSITES AND TEST THEIR SERVICES?”

BigBasket.com

This website is a boom for couch-potatoes like me. Through the convenience of home I could order good quality fruits & vegetables and get them delivered the same day.
Buying from mandis/flea-market is often not an option because of the unsanitary conditions of the shops & my inability to bargain due to limited know-how of the local language. Buying from the supermarkets is also not pleasant due to excessive traffic & parking woes followed by unending queues at the weighing stations & check out counters. What I fail to understand is that why would the supermarkets not make shopping a happy customer experience.

BigBasket is probably amongst the rare e-commerce store that don’t indulge in unsustainable discounts/promotion schemes. The rates for fruits & vegetables are slightly higher, but they compensate us with good quality.

Pros: Simple interface, easy to order (over phone, apps or online)
Cons: Almost everything is at MRP. SuperMarkets offer much better pricing.

 

Useless e-commerce comparisions

Backdrop: My wife was nagging me to iron the pile of clothes for the past few days and finally I gave in. Well to be honest… nobody was surprised if the iron broke in 2 pieces halfway during the excruciating manual labor process.

Anyways here I am 10pm on a friday evening surfing the net to find a replacement.

“I was looking for: Steam iron which is compatible to a 5A plug point and has a 2+m cord. Heavier the weight, more I would prefer it.”

I am surfing all the top online stores (flipkart, ebay, pepperfry & cromaretail). I must say that each and every one had published a 1 page long description of each of the 100+ different irons they were carrying, yet none of these store had the information I was looking for. Instead they would bombard me with more products than I could compare, various discounts, coupons, cashback schemes that would confuse me.

I bought my phone (Nokia Lumnia) in flipkart a month ago. Since this was a high value purchase of a fashion accessory: I went to a store, selected the best match (product, feature, price range, color, look, feel, size etc.) then compared online for the best price. I was OK to wait for 2 days for delivery because the discount was worth it. for a 1,000/- steam iron, I am unlikely going to do that.

Essentially I see steam irons as a commodity. As long as it is from a good brand, there is not much value add in spending hours doing the research about it. I wanted to shop online because of the promise of convenience that it offers and also to save me the time and energy to go to a physical store for this undifferentiated product.

Maybe you feel it is a rant…. but its a voice of a customer who is willing to pay a premium if a store could save him a trip to the store.