This is part two of our first installment of Ask The Readers (click here for part one), contributed by Matt Ruggieri of The Motley. I thought it’d be interesting to hear thoughts regarding this discussion from the perspective of a small business owner, and Matt is a perfect candidate. The Motley takes the customer’s online experience to heart, and I’m sure he’ll have some other thought-provoking questions to ask as well.
Like Barron, I’m an avid online shopper and that is one of the very reasons that I started up The Motley a year ago. My goals were to provide the best customer service possible (there is no reason that a company shouldn’t be able to), product understanding and a no-hassle return policy.
Let’s face it – it is impossible to compete with a giant like Amazon or Walgreens.com, but providing a better experience for the same price is likely to shift the customers in our direction. We provide responsive customer service and fast order fulfillment – something that these giants are losing touch with. Another thing that we pride ourselves on is our highly-curated selection with a growing knowledgebase. It’s important that we carry the best products that we can get our hands on and offer the most information we can about them. Researching, finding revolutionary brands and establishing relationships stands for half of what we do. It is impossible for the mass retailers to do what we do.
The most difficult part of e-commerce for us to compete with is shipping. Shipping costs are increasing and those that ship out large quantities have much lower rates. It is not feasible for a company of our size to offer entirely free shipping (we currently offer complimentary shipping on orders over $25). However, when we do have to charge for shipping, we believe that it is reasonable to split the costs with the consumer.
Barron has some fantastic questions and I’d like to add a few for debate.
- How does shipping costs (versus convenience, which Barron pays for in Amazon Prime) play into purchasing from an online retailer?
- How does product and brand knowledge play into this process?
- When do you prefer to order from a mass outlet verses an independent retailer?
- Any products or brands that would be a killer add to The Motley?
- Lastly, feel free to share anything that you found extremely cool about a particular experience at an online retailer.
What say you?
We’d love to hear what you have to think. Leave your thoughts in the comments below and Matt and I will be sure to respond. Cmon now, don’t be shy.