A recent perfume purchase showed how ferocious competition, brilliant strategy and questionable tactics can all be part of an online shop.
Whether you (plan to) buy or sell online this year or next, these observations may interest.
On the scent
If you think the printer market is competitive, check out perfume: high value and volume meets low weight and shipping.
The item I sought ranged from $170 to $83, so it was well worth looking around.
I planned to troll the lowest priced retailers until I hit one that looked trustworthy.
But the very first site I found grabbed and kept me.
Baby please don’t go!
As I tried to click to a competitor after perusing this site, a warning appeared:
‘Wait! Our agent has a special offer for you.’
Then another box came up with an attractive avatar and the words:
‘Madison says: Wait! We’d really like you as a customer. I’m authorized to give you a one-time discount of $6. CLICK HERE.’
I don’t like surprise pop-up messages (especially if I’m ‘lucky’ enough to be the 999,999th visitor).
Nor am I into coupons and their myriad, hidden, inevitably dispiriting terms.
But I saw no asterisk, fine print or ‘conditions apply’ proviso.
And since my search was cost-based, $6 appealed.
So I looked round the site and decided to give it a go.
This was an impressive achievement, as I always suss several suppliers before committing.
Closing the deal
Joining and ordering were easy – another win. (It’s amazing how many retail sites pip you at the post.)
Then I was invited to sign up for a loyalty scheme.
I hate these things, but couldn’t resist the offer of significant dollars off my next purchase.
And though I don’t recruit loved ones for a piece of the action, I was impressed the referral scheme extended to five levels for those who do.
A few days later, I got an email advertising a 15% sale.
It seemed the site, having found me, was dead keen to keep me.
This seldom happens in bricks-and-mortar stores.
Smell of success
The perfume took six weeks to arrive – a long time.
But it wasn’t a rushed purchase (and I figured there had to be some catch to a 51% discount) so I wasn’t fussed.
In the box were more goodies:
- An untimed[!] voucher for a further $5 off my next purchase
- A card asking for a 5-star Amazon rating if I was happy and a chance to fix things if I wasn’t.
This was smart, as prospects read and trust buyer reviews.
I was feeling pretty good about the whole experience.
Then I saw the shipping label.
On the nose?
The package had come from Fiji.
The customs declaration read ‘scented candle’.
I found this puzzling and slightly unsettling.
Was this US retailer dodging tax?
Would they really do that after all their effort to win my trust?
I sent an email and got a reply in minutes:
‘Your order had Fiji postage since that is the postage Freipost uses to save postage expense. Your order flew out of California directly to your country and was delivered to you without ever arriving in Fiji.
Our company owns multiple online sites with our own candle site and we manufacture our own candles here at our warehouse in Santa Ana, California. All candle orders can/or designer products are shipped from our Candle warehouse.’
I don’t ‘get’ this, so I don’t trust it. Do you?
As we ponder, I’d love to hear about your online shopping forays, and how (if?) you incorporate this burgeoning channel into your business.
Act NOW to beat the rush!