Why Online Integration is a Good Idea

I happened across a story while perusing the current news. It’s a perfect example of what online integration isn’t. The website bills themselves as “Not Always Right features funny & interesting true stories submitted by readers from around the world. When we originally launched in 2007, the site focused on funny & stupid customer stories (“The customer is NOT always right”). However, Not Always Right has since expanded to included anecdotes from all spheres of life.”

Now the majority of the stories are from people who deal with customers in some capacity. The premise being that the customer is not always right. While I tend to agree with that, this particular story grabbed my attention for a few reasons that I’ll explain below.

The Story

 

We Can Do Nothing For Those Who Accept Nothing

NEW YORK, PET STORE,   AUGUST 7, 2017     notalwaysright.com

(My store has recently started a new “Store Pick-Up” option where customers can order items online and then pick them up at a local location the same day. Corporate is running several different sales that can only be applied to these online transactions. This is turning into a problem since many customers see the low prices online and get angry when they come into the store and see a higher price tag. A customer calls me over and starts to complain about this discrepancy. I explain the special sale, but she isn’t having it.)

Customer: “So there’s nothing you can do for me?”

Me: “There’s actually a lot we can do! We can process your purchase online using the store computer and it can be ready for you, at the sale price, in about 10 to 20 minutes.”

Customer: “20 minutes?!”

Me: “Yes, that’s one option. If that doesn’t sound good, remember that this sale will be going on for a few weeks. You’re welcome to go home, purchase as much as you’d like online, and then pick it up the next time you’re in town.”

Customer: “Why can’t you just go up to the register and give me this price today? You’re going to lose a lot of business this way!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but this sale is specifically meant to encourage people to shop online and use the in-store pickup. I’m not allowed to manually adjust any of the prices to this level.”

Customer: “So there’s nothing you can do for me?”

Me: “Ma’am… there are still several ways that we can get you this sale. We can use a store computer and process an online order within about 10 minutes, or you can put in the order at your leisure and pick it up another time. Are you interested in doing either of those?”

Customer: “Just change the price for me at the register; I want these items right now.”

Me: “I can’t do that, I’m afraid. These prices are only for people who use the online ordering system.”

Customer: “So there’s nothing you can do for me?”

Me: *facepalm*

Online Integration Solutions

 

My first issue with this story, whether it’s real or fiction, has to do with the “store pickup option”. Now before you start talking about the massive benefits of this tactic for driving store traffic, hear me out. My issue is with providing the discount for only purchases online. The idea of telling the customer to go home and order online defeats the purpose of the promotion.

A true integration approach would utilize the internet to drive sales. I think it’s faulty reasoning to refuse to honor the discounted price to someone who is standing in your store. Secondly, if the order can be placed on the store computer and fulfilled within twenty minutes, the inventory is on hand. Use that waiting time to offer upsells, cross-sells, and the like. You could also simply allow the customer to browse, which is why you offered the promotion in the first place.

Sometimes a manufacturer limits you in this regard, but where they don’t, you should honor the discount. The idea of this sale is to get people in the store. A fully integrated approach would allow a business to offer incentives to drive traffic into the store. It would also allow for drop shipped items to be purchased both in-store and online to increase sales. You could also offer variations on stock items.

For instance, a customer likes a style of shoes but not the color. The store wouldn’t have to stock every color of every style. Allow the customer to order the shoes in the desired color and have them shipped to their home or the store. Since the customer knows that the style fits, they’ll be more inclined to be happy with that arrangement.

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