Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Can On-line Fashion Retailers Better Traditional Street Retailers?

I recently ordered an item from Boohoo.com and paid for next day delivery as needed the item for a special event. Everything was booked in for delivery on Monday, complete with courier delivery date etc. So waited all Monday, constantly checking the updated delivery schedule. Waited until 5pm then realised what if it doesn't get delivered. 

So what next, you would have thought that it would be quite simple to just call Boohoo and see what has happened to the item in question. But no, there is no contact number and you have to email and if you want an instant response you have to go to twitter or facebook accounts. 

The twitter account told me to wait until 9pm as boohoo couriers deliver up to that time. So I waited until I received an email saying that my item had been dispatched. I then checked the couriers website and it said "couldn't be delivered- left a calling card". So I rushed downstairs to check my post box and it was empty. 


So I waited in all day and the delivery drivers just couldn't be bothered to 1. do there job - deliver the item or 2. call me if there was a problem delivering i.e. gate access or something. I rechecked the couriers website and have to go through the process of getting the urgent items which I need for Tuesday delivered and when is the next available day.....Wednesday! 


After feeling pretty frustrated I thought that perhaps this was just a one-off and perhaps they've hired a team of incompetant delivery drivers but on checking their twitter account @boohoo_cshelp I'm not alone!. 


Sooooooooooooo I thought to myself I should have just gone to Town and checked through what I wanted from the high street. I also thought about what are the actual benefits and problems with ordering from a Strictly online fashion retailer and hopefully some of what I've written below will explain.....Don't forget to let me know what you're experiences are like and hopefully we can make a change :-) 


I think alot can be learned from both on-line and Traditional high street retailers. As with the likes of Boohoo, Asos and Very they offer alot of choice, alot of current trends. However the same can be said with High Street retailers, as Topshop and River Island provide a very current stock of the latest trends and styles.


The big push to why you would opt for an on-line specific retailer would generally be price. However River Island, Next and Topshop are all providing price structures which apear to be quite appealing. Another thorn in the on-line specific retailers would be the feeling you get from buying a product in store, as you can specifically try on the correct size, try multiple dresses and try it there and then. Where with Very, Asos, and Boohoo you have to wait and find out what happens when it's delivered with perhaps a 50% sucess rate whether you'll actually like the product or have to return it. In same cases perhaps higher. 


With the influx of "click and collect", I think this will allow the average consumer who works all day to come into the store and collect the item. Which Next, Topshop and now River Island have all invested in to name but a few. Whereas with Very, Boohoo and ASOS in most cases you will have to wait for a private courier and if you have missed it, wait on another day during the week, with no time specific time-slot. This can be a real nuisance, especially if you required the item for a special occasion or within a short time-frame. 


I would allways suggest to anyone looking to buy for a specific date to look to the traditional stores as delivery times as much as they might suggest Next day delivery are still reliant on the courier service actually delivering the item on the day. A quick check on Boohoo's customer service twitter account will indicate the number of people who are not recieving their delivery on-time. 


A more important note is that with the presence of on-line retailers being just that...on-line is that they have to provide exceptional customer service levels in which to better a tradtional store as you can simply just talk to a person face to face. Now Very provide an 0844 number so you'll be able to contact someone in the event of a late delivery etc. However both Boohoo and ASOS don't provide such a service and infact both are using Twitter and Facebook as their customer query service. 


I suppose with the whole of society turning increasingly more to both Twitter and Facebook platforms I think it's perhaps a step too far to use this service as your customer query hotline. I think it's really important to stress to such companies that a personal approach can go a long way than using such non-personal responses. What if you don't use Facebook or Twitter or just simply want to speak to someone. Customer service has to factor in a shopping experience as when it all goes wrong where can you go! 


Another big question is the issue of returns as an on-line retailer will refund both the cost of the item and the P&P which must seriously be impacting on their bottom line. Whereas if you ordered something on-line from Next, Topshop or River Island you can simply just return it to the store. Which is alot more convenient as you'll get your money back there and then. I think perhaps it won't be too far down the line that Very, Boohoo and ASOS actually go down the root of investing in bricks and mortar, if only for the fact to reduce the impact of the cost of returns and obviously to grow their presence as they already have the stock and the publicity. 


I think on a whole, especially with the investment of the "click and Collect" service that Traditional Fashion retailers with an on-line service will win the battle against strictly on-line Fashion retailers. The Nexts, Topshops and River Islands are heading in the right direction whereas the Boohoos, Verys and ASOSs have alot of work to do, if anything to concentrate on their customer service levels. Let me know your views