JCP, this one is for you, because it illustrates the exact problem with why online marketplaces have the power to not only disrupt, but crush you. I needed shoes. It happens. Specifically, I wanted the all black Chuck Taylor Converse All Stars to wear with my suit this weekend.
Yes, I wear Chucks with a suit. I’m one of Those Guys. That’s beside the point. Now, I didn’t need them tonight, or tomorrow, but in time for the weekend. So it wasn’t last minute, but there was a schedule to respect in the matter.
I absolutely hate retailers that have both brick and mortar stores, and online stores, and their online stores don’t tell me a:) if my local store carries the item, and b:) if my local store currently has it in stock. I’m sorry, there’s no excuse, especially for you Big Department Stores with your Fancy Inventory Management. You should know this, and as an extension, I should know this. It’s getting more common, but there are still some out there (JCPenny’s, I’m looking right at you) that don’t.
But I needed the shoes, and it wasn’t a long drive, so I went down to the local mall and went in to JCP and found, to my delight, that they HAD the shoes in question. Good deal. “Hey Mr. Shoe Guy that’s ignoring me, do you have these in a 9?” He goes in back and returns with two boxes. The black ones I wanted in an 8, and the black on white style in a 9. I didn’t ask for 8s. I could at least attempt to get into bigger shoes, but smaller? Physics, good sir, physics.
You didn’t have my size. Ultimately forgivable (though only barely, assuming your business is to sell me crap and your chance to do it is when I’m in front of you). If you sell out, you sell out. But in this case, and 8 is FAR too small for me. And what did I discover? You were happy to offer me the chance to order them, but it would take 5-7 days.
So what happens? I tried on your black-on-white 9s. They fit perfectly. I left. I didn’t buy them. Instead, I’m going to go on to Amazon Prime, order them cheaper than you had them, and get them in two days (with free return option if they don’t fit, but thanks to you, I know they will).
First, it blows my mind that I can order something online and have it UPS’d to me faster than their internal supply chain can get it to them. That’s insane and ultimately unhelpful. Second, there’s a store 30 minutes from here the next town over. I don’t need shoes right this instant, and the gas I’ll burn will pretty much take away any chance at savings. THEY should have a truck running nightly to shuttle inventory back and forth. If they could have said “Hey, we don’t have it, but Joplin does and we can have it here in the morning,” I would have bought it. But no. Lost sale.
If you are a B&M retailer, your chance to make a sale is when I’m right in front of you. Once I walk out that door, you are screwed. And if you can’t give me a better alternative, you will lose that sale every single time. Even in the case of knowing one’s size, folks like Amazon offer free return shipping to get you the right size. So the only mitigating factor becomes one of time vs. necessity.
B&M retail store, take this as a lesson. Thanks to JCP for helping me find exactly what I want and take my sale elsewhere, that was very kind of you. You HAVE to do better than this.