Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Driving Consumers Online

Shopping in stores is increasingly frustrating.  Saturday, I stopped by a Home Depot in Durham, North Carolina, where I live, to buy some garden supplies I couldn’t fine at my favorite store for those items, Stone Bros. and Byrd. 

While I was there I spotted some pillows and an area rug I needed but was told the rug would need to be ordered.

I waited for nearly an hour while the diligent person helping me was obviously stymied though saying little and resistant to suggestions from co-workers.  This person also stubbornly resisted asking her supervisor or a manager for help.

Finally, a work-around appeared to work and I paid with assurances my sales assistant would call the rug manufacturer on Monday to be sure.  Late Monday I received a voice mail telling me that the order was unsuccessful and I should order the rug myself online, losing 48 hours for my patience.

The infographic, left, ranks retailers that shoppers visit before going online for cheaper solutions.  Not surprisingly in light of my experience The Home Depot ranks #2 for men.

Retailers call this “showrooming” but as I learned, it isn’t just an issue of price that drives people online.  For me, more often it comes down to availability and customers service/staff knowledge.

That’s why I wasn’t surprised to see Target at #8 on the list overall.  Target is great for what they carry but there seems to be no rhyme or reason to what they carry and what they don’t even within a particular line of products.

I’m sure what buyers do to stock these stores is as much art as it is algorithm, but it seems people who do this for Target are either behind the times or in too much of a hurry to take time to distinguish between options among products.

It is frustrating to drive all over town in hopes of keeping folks employed and securing sales taxes to support local services only to have to come home to order online, usually receiving it the very next day.

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