Since 1998 Really Old Records of Natick, Mass. has been supplying a group of”unusual and collectible records,” taking full advantage of the Long Tail idea. However, the store was slow to ship and did not talk at all with me after I made a purchase online.
On December 22, 2008 with my house full of the smell of baking cookies and nostalgia, I surfed to ReallyOldRecords.com and began clicking through the inviting lists of extended play vinyl records. It was like taking a trip back in time and I enjoyed it. But I was not a normal Christmas shopper. No, I was carefully documenting the buy due to this, The Shopping Experience.
Each month Practical eCommerce goes shopping, making a purchase from a genuine merchant. We create a picture of the buying experience and report back to you concerning the overall checkout process, customer support experience, and delivery. The aim of this review is to get a customer’s perspective regarding the featured merchant particularly and about overall online retailing practices. To be certain we don’t get preferential treatment, we do not notify the merchant about the impending review. Consider it as a secret shopper program on the internet.
Unfortunately, Really Old Records did not do a wonderful job of communicating, and, thus, serves more as a lesson to talk to your customers and set appropriate expectations.
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Video Shopping Experience
Really Old Records and The Long Tail Concept
First, I must acknowledge that I adore Really Old Records’ marketplace section. It takes full advantage of Chris Anderson’s Long Tail concept. And I am reminded of something I heard marketing guru Seth Godin say during a recent webinar (I paraphrase),”half of Amazon’s sales come from books other online book stores don’t carry.” Really Old Records has a fantastic inventory of vinyl and other documents that I believe buyers will find. And I am willing to bet you will not find these names in lots of other record stores.
If I had been on a mission for Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Spirit Revolution LP, by way of instance, locating the exact Old Records site would be like wondering to the promised land.
Internet Design and Professionalism
With eBay’s ProStores to find a shopping cart, Really Old Records is a professional looking store with an easy-to-navigate design. As a customer, I had the impression they were an honest and direct merchant. However, it is not the most amazing bit of web design I have seen, and the site left me feeling confident Really Old Records was a rather small company –nothing at all wrong with this belief, but I would not have mistaken them for a enormous multichannel merchant.
The Shopping Cart
Once I had decided –a classical LP featuring mandolin pieces from Beethoven and Schlick–the checkout process using the ProStores cart took approximately seven and a half an hour to finish. More than once, I was not just clear about what I have to do. By means of example, whenever the cart began, I had been offered a PayPal option that gave me the notion that I’d be hauled away to a different cart. I was also given a sign-in option that was somewhat confusing because of the positioning of an”Are you a new customer” connection –the link type of seemed like a title, but may have supposed that the sign in on this webpage was for returning customers. And I needed to input my address information twice, since I did not know that site registration was required.
Finally, after I clicked to confirm the order, I waited one minute and 16 minutes to the cart to respond. 1 minute is a lifetime for a shopping cart to respond, especially when the shopper (me) is using high-speed broadband that has been pinging at 8,800 kilobytes per second on the day in question.
Really Old Records’ did not talk with me after the purchase. Originally, I thought that perhaps the confirmation email had gotten caught in my email client’s hyper-aggressive spam filter, but after searching through 3,114 spam messages, I could find nothing from Really Old Records. I never got a shipping confirmation .
Delivery and transport
As stated previously, I bought from Really Old Records on Monday, December 22, 2008. It was just after 7:00 AM in the Mountain Time zone, making it shortly after 9:00 AM in Massachusetts. I also paid $4 extra to secure U.S. Priority Mail shipping, a service that typically takes around three times. But my order was not sent for five days, and did not arrive at my home for almost a week and a half.
On a positive note, the album I purchased was well packaged and arrived as described, eventually.
Lessons for Us All
When I first seen Really Old Records, I had been excited about the idea. I’ve been a potentially good and loyal customer. And in hindsight, Really Old Records didn’t do anything”technically” wrong. I got what I ordered. However, they didn’t supply me with a wonderful customer experience. Below are a few tips for Really Old Records and for many people.
- Send an order confirmation email. Most carts offer this attribute as an automatic option. If I had gotten this email, I would have immediately discarded it. However, not getting it put me to stressing.
- Establish appropriate shipping and deliver expectations. Maybe Really Old Records only ships on Saturdays. Great, tell the customer which. As a customer, I generally assume that my order will ship within 24 hours or so. Don’t keep me waiting. Make it clear how long a product will need an order to ship.
- Send a shipping confirmation email. Let your customer know when an item has shipped and provide them with a tracking number so that they can have a look at the package’s progress for themselves.