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If you’re a subscriber of this blog then you know by now – we are firm believers that price and product selection are converging for many online categories, and as a result the best way for an online business to differentiate is to provide an outstanding customer experience.
With the recent news that Dollar General is launching an ecommerce site, we’re obviously curious about the kind of customer service policies and practices we should expect from the discount retailer’s new online store. After all, it’s hard to find a better example of price convergence than the “dollar-store” category.
For starters, let’s look at one of Dollar General’s main competitors, Dollar Tree. While Dollar Tree offers 24/7 call support and free shipping for orders sent to a local Dollar Tree store, it doesn’t allow for returns (all sales are final).
Adding to our intrigue about Dollar General’s future online service is that it plans to outsource the majority of its operations – including its customer service – to GSI Commerce, a solution provider that helps create, develop and run online shopping sites for numerous brands and retailers. According to the InternetRetailer article about the new site, Dollar General’s online store will not launch with the same in-store pick up option that Dollar Tree provides. Let’s hope this is not one of many services left off the new Dollar General site.
If we may be so bold as to place some requests, it would be great to see the new Dollar General site offer:
What do you think? Can a company offering such low-priced items be successful in the ecommerce game? Will it be able to compete on the ultimate differentiator, customer service?
We will find out soon enough, as the site is planned to launch September 8th. Stay tuned!
I’m not sure how old I will be until I start feeling totally comfortable buying my undergarments in-person. I can only imagine how men must feel buying these kinds of presents!
It is no surprise then that VictoriasSecret.com has been the highest in sales for the Apparel/Accessories category the past two years, as ranked by Internet Retailer. Women need bras, and men know where they like to get them, thanks to the brand’s famous models featured in their free catalog and annual runway show.
However, there is a brand that really stands out for its customer service excellence. The Leonisa brand, which originates in Latin America, is the
Ricky Martin Shakira Enrique Iglesias of over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders (or “sobre los hombros tenedor de rocas” – though that phrase isn’t quite as catchy in Spanish.)
Naturally, Leonisa.com is seamlessly navigable in both Spanish and English. Unsure if your flopper stoppers will fit? Use the return address label provided with the packaging to easily exchange or return your item. Our mystery shoppers were impressed with the incredibly fast turnaround from the date they returned their undergarments until they received a refund on their credit card.
What if you want to wait before testing your britches? Leonisa.com boasts a generous 60-day return policy. So long as you return them new and with tags attached, you will receive a refund.
Are you a gentleman who wishes there was something like this for men? Wish no more, because Leonisa offers men’s underthings too.
Leonisa always has free shipping for orders over $50, but through 7/25 there is no order minimum at all, so there’s no better time to get all the support you need.
When companies first began selling their products on the web, customer service and e-commerce were almost totally incompatible. Retailers competed over prices and selection, but excellent customer service was the selling point of non-Internet vendors. Physical retailers, the conventional wisdom dictated, were better suited to handle patrons’ complaints, questions, and returns.
Flash forward fifteen years or so and the ballgame is changing once again. No longer are companies striving to best each other in choice or cost – those factors are practically the same across the web. Instead, internet retailers are competing more and more for superior customer service. A recent study from the Forrester Group concludes that e-retailers now feel compelled to offer free shipping in order to remain competitive. These companies are coming to realize that free shipping policies are an excellent way to draw business and differentiate themselves. And when companies compete, buyers win. As more businesses adopt customer-friendly policies such as free shipping, their rivals are forced to as well. The customer service competition provides numerous opportunities for consumers to benefit.
Not long ago, online shopping was a trade off between selection and customer service. Now, e-retailers try to outdo each other in friendliness, convenience, and helpfulness. At STELLAService, free shipping is just one of the hundreds of metrics we use to evaluate the extent to which businesses are working for their customers.
If you want to see amazing robotics at work look no further than the 2 minute clip below, which is a glimpse into the warehouse of…diapers.com? Believe it or not the site is an e-retail giant, expected to bring in more than $300 million in revenues this year selling baby supplies to busy parents throughout the country. The company has built a loyal following by providing excellent customer service, selection and free overnight shipping on most products. One of their impressive competitive advantages lies in the inventory management and packaging systems they designed and utilize:
Now the co-founders of the company have set their sites on bringing convenience to everyone (not just parents) with the planned launch of Soap.com this July. The site will carry more products than imaginable (25,000 at launch and 100,000 by the end of 2011), offering a plethora of daily essentials across numerous brands (read more here). Combining their expertise in shipping and inventory management with renowned customer service (diapers.com has the rarefied STELLAService Elite rating), it’s fair to say Soap.com has the pedigree to become a major force in the online marketplace.
More on Soap.com from TechCrunch.