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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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mobile eCommerce, Amazon.com Blurs the Line Between Web and Mobile Purchase


Mobile e-Commerce and Amazon.com, Buying From Your Mobile Device.It’s 7:17AM and I just caught the express train from Princeton to New York City. This morning will be a little different, though. I won’t be doing what I typically do during a trip into Manhattan like browsing the latest blog posts and articles about internet marketing, writing new blog posts or using Twitterberry to Tweet on Twitter. {Try and say that 5 times fast!} No, this morning I am going to test the limits of the mobile web. That’s right, I’m going to buy something from my Blackberry! Yes, I know that’s bold… You might be wondering if buying something on your mobile device is seamless yet? Not consistently. Is it something completed often? Definitely not. I’d actually argue that some people don’t even know it’s possible. In addition, many companies unfortunately haven’t made the effort to ensure that your mobile buying experience is easy. This translates into a lack of user trust. And when you have a lack of user trust, people won’t act (or in this case, buy). But there’s an exception to every rule and that exception is Amazon.com when you are referring to mobile e-commerce. I was ridiculously impressed with my mobile purchase the other day. Let’s explore why.

Buying from Amazon.com on the Train
Bryan Eisenberg just released his latest book, Always Be Testing and I’ve been dying to buy it. But, I haven’t had time to buy it from home and I’ve been cranking away at work so my train ride would be the perfect opportunity to make the purchase. That is, if I could successfully make a purchase using my Blackberry, which is easier said than done. Based on my experience testing mobile e-commerce, I was fairly certain that I would run into some glitch along the way, whether that was on my end or on the retailer’s end. So I logged onto Amazon.com in search of Bryan’s latest book, and let me tell you…I was blown away. Amazon has obviously gone to great lengths to make my mobile buying experience as seamless as possible. Let me briefly explain each step of the experience that impressed me.

1. The Basics, A Mobile Version of the Website
As I hit the website, Amazon displayed their mobile version of the website, which is optimized for mobile devices. The site was formatted for my mobile browser and streamlined my visit. Imagine having to load all of the typical Amazon content on your mobile browser…that wouldn’t be good and would be a barrier for many potential customers.

2. Search
The search box was front and center on mobile Amazon. I entered, “Always be testing” and received a nicely formatted, easy to read listing of books. Bryan’s book was the first result. Like I said earlier, easy.

3. Book Detail Page
Then I was taken to a streamlined product detail page. A buy now button was front and center, along with the details of the book. I could easily read editorial reviews and customer reviews, which I thought would be tedious on my Blackberry. It wasn’t. I could also add the book to my watchlist, if needed. Clicking on a review took me to the full customer review with easy navigation back to the detail page.

**And by the way, the pages on the site loaded ridiculously fast (and I’m comparing that to my typical mobile load times).

4. The checkout process…
...was darn smooth. I was able to log into my account and move through the checkout process quickly. Within a few minutes and a few screens, I had ordered my book. I also received the same outstanding correspondence that Amazon typically provides with standard web purchases. And I felt extremely confident that the order went through and that I would receive my book quickly about Google Website Optimizer. And I did…2 days later.

This was by far my best mobile e-commerce experience yet. Actually, it was so good that it’s hard to make a distinction between a typical web buying experience and Amazon’s mobile buying experience. Amazon blurred the line between web and mobile which is not easy to do. They deserve great recognition for this!

Amazon, keep making this easy for us…
And here’s the core point of my blog post. If you make your mobile e-commerce experience seamless, fast, and efficient for customers, then you’ll have a new and powerful opportunity for increasing sales. This is an extremely important point as more and more companies focus on mobile e-commerce and as devices and their capabilities grow. Seriously, as soon as you sit down on the train and look around, everyone has their smartphones out. Talk about an opportunity. :-)

In closing, if you’re a marketer, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Are you ready for mobile customers?
2. Can your site handle mobile purchases?
3. How much revenue are you losing by not having a mobile-ready e-commerce website?
4. Are competitors eating your lunch mobile-wise?

These are important questions that you should bring up to senior leadership at your organization. And when you bring this up, what’s the easiest way to demonstrate the power of mobile e-commerce? Just take out your mobile device and visit Amazon.com, and then compare it to your mobile buying experience. Believe me, I think they’ll get it. ;-)

GG

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