The Internet Marketing Driver: Glenn Gabe's goal is to help marketers build powerful and measurable web marketing strategies.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Best Buy In Store Pickup 2, Would the Sequel Be Better than the Original (for Once)


Best Buy In Store Pickup, The Second ChanceI’m a nice guy. Really, I’m not kidding… I don’t want to complain about companies, products or services. Actually, I love coming across a product or service that I like and that I believe in. And, I’m the type of person to tell everyone I know. I’m definitely a word of mouth marketing machine for the products and companies I like. It’s just in my blood. So, when I tried Best Buy In Store Pickup in 2006 (on a tight deadline), and the service bombed on me, you could imagine my frustration. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, it wasted my time, and as a result, I let the world know about it on my blog. As I stated in 2006, great concept, poor execution. But again, I’m a nice guy. I believe in second chances, and this is a post about the second chance I gave Best Buy this past weekend. My hope was that Best Buy fixed the flawed In Store Pickup system that wasted my time in 2006 and pushed me to write about my negative experience. Let’s start at the beginning with a brief description of what frustrated me in 2006.

My Problems with the Original
In 2006, I logged onto the site, found the products I needed, chose “in store pickup”, and was shown that it was in stock at the store in Princeton. Then, when I received my two confirmation emails, I was told that the products weren’t in stock. What?? So, I had to log back on and order a different product, again seeing that it was in stock. But was it? The system said the same thing last time, only to send me an email notifying me that the product wasn’t in stock… I took the chance, it ended up being in stock, and I was off to Best Buy to pick up my order. But I wasted time, wasn’t confident in the process, was frustrated, and probably could have just run out to the store from the beginning! It amazed me that a company like Best Buy didn’t have an integrated system for knowing if something was really in stock… That’s why I wrote the first post. But this post is about the sequel, the second chance I gave Best Buy. So grab your popcorn and soda and let’s find out how the sequel went.

It Doesn’t Happen Often, But the Sequel Beat the Original
I found myself in a similar buying situation last week, needing to order some products, but short on time. That’s the moment I thought I would give Best Buy a second chance. I logged onto the site, found the products I needed, chose “In Store Pickup”, quickly checked if the product was in stock in Princeton, and finalized my order. Then I eagerly awaited the two confirmation emails to see if the products were actually in stock, hoping the systems were integrated a little better than 2006… Within 20-30 minutes, I received my confirmation emails and everything was in stock. Great job Best Buy. The system worked and you saved me time. It seems like you might have improved your system for checking whether or not a product is actually in stock. The key words being “I think”… I didn’t really know that for sure and maybe I was just lucky this time. So, I headed off to pick up my products at the Princeton location, armed with my email receipt and my ID.

A Best Buy Employee Shed Some Light on In Store Pickup
In my original Best Buy In Store Pickup experience, the “In Store” part was outstanding. It was fast, efficient, and if the systems were better integrated, I could have seen using the service more often. This time was pretty similar. It was a little more crowded, but overall, it was still pretty efficient. I showed my receipt and the credit card I used to pay for the items, and picked up the products I had purchased. Again, I was happy with the service this time.

Then it hit me, let me ask the employee at the In Store Pickup desk more about the service. Maybe there’s a good reason for how they determine if something is in stock. The man helping me seemed very knowledgeable about the process, so I peppered him with questions. My first question was about the notification on the site that the product was in stock. He said, “not so fast…” The system is linked with the store, but there are several variables that could throw off the actual number. Theft was the first thing he brought up (which by the way he emphasized it, makes me think it’s a bigger problem than most people know.). He also brought up bad SKU’s or human error when entering what’s in stock at the store location. If that happened, then the system wouldn’t know if the number entered is correct or not. So, his advice was simple. If the site shows more than 5 items in stock, you’re probably good to go. That leaves some buffer for theft or human error. If the site shows 1-2 items in stock, be careful and wait for the second confirmation email, which will tell you if it’s really in stock. And by the way, Best Buy physically has an employee go and check if it’s in stock once the purchase is made on the website. That’s why it can take up to 45 minutes to receive the second confirmation email. I thanked the employee for helping me and for taking the time to explain what goes on behind the scenes with In Store Pickup. Then I left with my products.

Will There be a Trilogy? I Think So.
Was my first experience negative? Absolutely, but I didn’t fully understand the process at that point. I can argue that as a consumer, I shouldn’t have to understand the process, but putting my marketing hat on for a minute, I must take that into account. Their online system cannot determine theft or human error, at least at this point in time. I understand that and I now have a newfound appreciation for what they are trying to accomplish with In Store Pickup. Actually, I have an idea for Best Buy. Take what the employee told me and add it to the FAQ for In Store Pickup on the website. Then whenever someone chooses In Store Pickup, show that link prominently in their cart (with more than a text link that’s currently there). I’m telling you, it will alleviate a lot of frustration and confusion. Consider that my free Internet Marketing advice for the day. ;-)

Have any of you used Best Buy In Store Pickup? What were your experiences like? I’m eager to know.

GG

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3 Comments:

  • At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Matt Leonard said…

    Great blog post. I had a similar experience with Best Buy, and the sequel was worse! In their defense, I should have expected it the second time as I was shopping right before Christmas. That always lowers expectations. It's good to see that you're objective. It really makes your blog very real, in my opinion. I enjoy it.

     
  • At 7:04 AM, Blogger Glenn Gabe said…

    Thanks Matt. I'm sorry to hear that you had a bad experience. My first was bad, second was better, but I cannot say what my third will be like. I understand the logistical challenges that Best Buy faces, but it's hard to rely on the system. It was great to hear more about the service from one of their employees. Again, they should post his information in their FAQ…

    And yes, I'm sure Christmas throws a wrench into the process!

    Regarding objectivity, I'm a firm believer in second chances. Glad you liked the post.

    GG

     
  • At 2:17 PM, Anonymous Kogut said…

    I just had a similar experience. I bought online and selected store pickup from a store that showed it was available. Then ~45 minutes later I got an email saying it wasn't available after all. Slightly annoying, but no big deal yet. So I called The Best Buy 800 number as directed to arrange for pickup from another store. The lady on the phone tells me she sees that the original store *should* have the product available, and to call them directly.

    I call them directly, and no one picks up. So I drive there. I go to the home theater dept, and give my back story to a "Geek." He checks his computer, and, yes, they have two! Yay! So he goes to the back, gets it, and brings it up to his cashier station. I hand him my Bestbuy.com confirmation email. He pauses, then tells me, "I'm sorry this product is not available." After my brain recovers from shock, I fix my attention on the product standing right next to me. He explains that when inventory falls below a certain number they won't let you do store pickup for online purchases.

    Let's count the ways Best Buy messed this up.

    1)Bestbuy.com allowed me to select a store for pick up that really didn't want me to pick up.
    2)Policy not explained clearly anywhere that I could find.
    3)Phone support personnel told me to fix the problem myself rather than taking care of it for me.
    4)Phone support personnel possibly didn't know policy any more than I did, and possibly suggested that I do the wrong thing.
    5)In-store personnel didn't listen to my back story where I explained up-front that I'd bought the item online
    6)In-store personnel chooses the "screw the customer" route rather than going to check with his manager to see if they could let me have the system despite the unclear policy since I was at the store, standing next to the product I wanted, already pre-purchased.
    7)Bestbuy.com and the stores have different prices all the time, which causes much of this confusion in the first place.

     

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