Muse #132 - the joy of being a customer
It was time for new walking shoes. My conservative approach of buying Costco’s cheapest ($29/C$39) and only yearly model of Adidas men’s sports shoes last year did not work out this time. The shoe was of poor quality and started disintegrating.
Usually, Costco makes these shoes available during November-December of the previous year before the next spring arrives and when these run out, they run out. The challenge with this process is that you buy the shoes in winter and do not really get to use them until several months later. Then, when a bad quality bites your toes, you are out of luck.
My shoe shopping is usually limited by the choice of shoes for the wide width that I buy. Rather than picking a model and trying for my size, I do it the other way around. I look around for what shoes are available in the size that I want and eliminate the things that I don’t like and buy something from the rest that are left. Just like the constrained choices we make often in life, the choice is never unlimited.
Here in Canada, shoe retail is still considering non-essential, and only online shipping and curbside pickup were on offer. That ruled out trying things out before buying. DSW warehouse was my preferred vendor but they did not have a choice of what I wanted in my size. So too bad.
I shifted to two other stores that retail men’s shoes - Marks Wearhouse and Sportschek, both these chains belong to a large Canadian retailer - the Canadian Tire group. Both had Nike available, but generally, I read only the low-scoring reviews and that did not give me much comfort.
On top of that Nike was not discounted in the “Friends and Family” sale going on at both stores for Father’s Day. Nike in the last several years has learned a trick or two from Apple in trying to control the pricing and supply of their products - leaning towards direct retail, rather than through retailers to keep their margins high. (Perhaps tip for me: Buy Nike stock!)
So finally I picked one model of shoe each from these two shops. New Balance and Skechers in wide form. But free shipping was for a minimum of $99. I don’t know who comes up with these customer-friendly options.
So, workaround time. Can I ship to the store for free instead? Yes, said Mark’s. So that was ordered for store pick up. And no said Sportscheck. That ain’t an option. So, I ordered two pairs of shoes in different colors - try, evaluate and return one of them instead of paying for shipping. Got free shipping. Problem solved.
Customers are always more intelligent than companies. They always have choices and workarounds on what systems and processes these companies have so carefully developed. The companies are focused on their profitability and convenience rather than the customer experience. In reality, they actually spend more money than they think they are saving. Only a few think different - like the Amazon’s and the Zappo’s.
Sportschek delivered yesterday and I picked it up at Mark’s today. Now, the try, evaluate and decide process on which to keep and which to return. And the returns are going to be a whole another story.
The final irony and the nail in the coffin for the experience was when I picked up in Mark’s they delivered to me a fully packed shoe in a courier box - the shoes had been couriered to store. Why the heck did they not have the process where this could have been sent directly to me instead? Boggles my mind!