Online retailers who don’t get what online is about

I have recently started renting an apartment down in Melbourne (more about reasons for that later) and decided to try and order everything I needed to furnish the place online. I didn’t really have the time or the transport to do anything else anyway.

Well, what an interesting experience! As a customer, my experience ranged from awesome to really disappointing. One thing that really stood out for me is that there are online retailers that really get what online retail is about and plenty who still have no idea!


First up the awesome online retailers, who really get it. I bought my bed and mattress from online only specialist OzMattress on a recommendation from a friend who handles their social media. The whole experience with them was fantastic. Starting with their website, which was simple, easy to use and easy to understand their products and the differences between each. They only make 3 types of mattress – so it was a piece of cake to make a decision. Delivery was a breeze, they contacted me with a day and time range (2 hours) then a call from the driver on the morning of delivery and a call when they arrived at my apartment, so I could let them in. They unpacked the bed, set it up carefully and took away the packaging. When the pillows I ordered didn’t arrive with the bed, I got hold of them on online chat and they fixed the problem straight away, couriering a new set to my work that day.

I bought a fridge from Appliances Online, also online only – who really get it. Same level of of great service, they contacted me about delivery, delivered when they said they would, unpacked and set up the fridge, plugged it in and took away all of the packaging.

At the other end of the scale, there are still plenty of online retailers who don’t get online retail. It is not just about setting up a website, getting some product and selling stuff cheaply online. Being online is about the total customer experience from placing the order to getting the product delivered.

I bought a sofa, barstools and TV stand from a nameless online retailer who thought it was just about selling stuff cheaply online. Firstly they were out of stock of the barstools, so that was refunded, well OK that I can accept. They had outsourced delivery to (various) transport companies, who didn’t really care about customer service. So when the sofa was first delivered, I wasn’t there to let them in as no-one had contacted me to arrange delivery. When I contacted them about the attempted delivery they demanded that I organise for two people to help unload the truck, as there was only the truck driver on the truck. It was also impossible to get the driver to phone me when he arrived, so that I could let them in. The other item I had ordered had disappeared.

On following up with the retailer, I discovered the missing piece was dispatched with another transport company, who (after another call) I found had also attempted delivery a week earlier and they had been given the wrong number by the retailer and hadn’t been able to contact me about their attempted delivery. Anyway after about 6 phone calls, 2 weeks and endless frustration I finally got everything that I ordered.

This online retailer thought that outsourcing delivery to various transport companies would no doubt be the most “efficient” and “cost effective” approach. However, they totally failed to understand that the customer experience with them is only complete when the goods have been received by the customer. The poor experience I had, even though it was well after I had placed the order, was still with the retailer in my mind – not the transport company.

Online retailers must understand that that they can’t outsource customer service to transport companies who are just in the business of moving stuff around, service is still their responsibility until the product is finally delivered.

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