2006 Holiday Season Online Shopping Review - Amazon.com, Old Navy, Harry and David, and Penzeys Spices
Since 1997, each year on Thanksgiving morning I try and complete as much of my holiday shopping online as possible. It's a tradition of mine that has saved me countless hours and a lot of frustration. This is the first year I am going to give you examples of my best experiences, as well as, my worst. So without further ado, here we go!
* Amazon.com (now that's a big surprise, huh??) Yes, everyone knows about Amazon.com, but it could not be left out of my review... Amazon provides an unbelievable online buying experience. First off, their selection is unmatched. You can literally find anything on Amazon.com...and I typically fly through the site finding what I need with little trouble. Their cart functionality and one click ordering is phenomenal and their follow up communication with customers is fast and well though out. I ended up purchasing more than anticipated on Amazon this year, mostly due to their on-site search functionality, but I also utilized some of their cross sell recommendations.
Amazon.com - The Glenn Gabe No Fluff Rating: 9/10 -- I took off 1 point for some of the B.S. reviews. ;-)
* Old Navy - I have 2 nieces and 2 nephews so a stop at Old Navy's website was a given. I found it very easy to browse the site, moving from category to category and then drilling into subcategories. Their AJAX-driven Quick Look functionality is awesome. It gives you the ability to dynamically trigger the item, along with more views, prices, sizes, etc. right from the browse-by listings. The product detail page is nicely laid out and easily lets you make selections and add items to your cart. Also via AJAX, they dynamically show you if an item is out of stock based on your selections on the product detail page. This is an example of providing great functionality for visitors and to read about some "not so great" functionality, check out a recent post of mine regarding Best Buy In Store Pickup! Back to Old Navy...the purchase process was fast, the follow up communication was excellent, and I left with a strong feeling that I'll be back soon...
Old Navy - The Glenn Gabe No Fluff Rating 8/10. I took off 2 points for the clunky homepage and some of the clunky landing pages (which you can easily get past). Once you are in a category, you can fly.
The Not So Good:
* Harry and David - Hey, the moose munch will only get you so far! :-0
After launching GSQi, I tried several companies for client holiday gifts, but have pretty much settled on Harry and David. They do a great job with their product line while offering items across a wide price range. That said, the online buying experience leaves a lot to be desired. This year, I quickly logged onto the site and started adding items to my cart. This part of the process was painless. --Now, keep in mind that I have purchased from them before and have a list of clients saved in my giftlist. This year, I had some new clients to add to the list, which is where my experience took a turn for the worse. I began by adding items for clients already on my giftlist. Then I tried to add a new client on the fly, whose name showed up in my cart, but her address didn't... So, I decided to go into my giftlist and saw that the new client wasn't there. So, I added the new client's information in my giftlist, only to have to go back and delete the item from my cart, then re-add it to my cart, and finally select the newly added client. Are you confused yet?? I was. This was taking too long. I finally got everything working and proceeded to checkout. From here, the process was fine. It seemed a little clunky, but worked ok. Their shipping functionality is always excellent and they consistently exceed my expectations with regard to delivery. To make a long story short, the online buying experience needs to be more intuitive. I'm obviously a savvy online buyer (I better be, right?) and I had some trouble. So, I took a second to think about how my mother would do....probably not very well.
Harry and David - The Glenn Gabe No Fluff Rating 6/10. The moose munch added an extra point. Darn, that stuff is good!
* Penzeys Spices - (a gift for my wife, of course!) My wife loves this store and their products so I wanted to take a look at Penzeys' website for Christmas ideas. I hit the site and almost fell out of my chair... a splash page?? OK, I click through the clunky graphic to the site and this time I did fall out of my chair! The site was circa 1997. A few graphics sprayed around, a few text links, clipart looking icons, I actually had to check the URL to make sure I was at the real site! Penzeys Spices, what are you doing?? Your customers love you, your products are excellent, but you have a website that my 10 year old nephew could put together. I entered the "online store", which was a ridiculous listing of text links with prices. Part of your allure is your merchandising so don't you want to provide images so customers can figure out what to buy? I understand that you want to drive people to your retail stores, but I would probably just tell them that. Seriously, just add some well written copy that says,
"Hello Online Shopper. Since our business is driven by our brick and mortar stores, we would like you to visit them. We've taken a lot of time to ensure that our employees are nice and knowledgeable so they can help you choose the best spices for the job at hand. This site was purposely built to force you to visit our stores...we haven't updated the site since Bill Clinton was in office. Thank you."
OK, I've hammered the site enough. Please, Penzeys Spices, revamp your website. You are missing out on a lot of revenue... I'm serious.
Penzeys Spices - The Glenn Gabe No Fluff Rating 2/10. My wife forced me to give the site higher than a 1...and the 1 was purely from the fear that after the marketing team at Penzeys reads this post, some day I would come home to see my house buried under tons of pepper, paprika, chili powder, cumin, or some other deadly spice! :-)