One of the ways that ‘real world’ retailers are trying to play to their strengths is by allowing customers to order online and then collect the goods from a convenient branch. Examples include the ‘click and collect’ service offered by Coles and Woolworths, and JB Hi-Fi’s ‘pick up’ option. The advantages can include avoiding delivery charges and not being at the mercy of delivery drivers’ schedules.
I recently wanted to purchase something from JB Hi-Fi, but it was out of stock at the branch that I pass a couple of times a week. Since this was not an urgent purchase, I decided to order online for pick-up at the local store.
My experience was not completely satisfactory. The online purchase went smoothly enough, and availability was quoted as two to five days. Since I could see that stock was available at several other branches within a relatively small radius, my expectation was that I’d be able to collect the item in two days time when I’d be next passing the store.
I assumed that goods would be transferred from a warehouse to the stores each day, and that if the warehouse was out of stock my item would be sent from another nearby branch, a process that I imagined would only take another 24 hours even if it had to be transported via the depot rather than a same-day direct store-to-store transfer.
But no - for whatever reason, the process took the full five days. I realise that is within the quoted timeframe so I have no reason to complain, and that if I had been in a hurry I could have gone a few kilometres out of my way to buy from another branch, or even purchased a similar though more expensive product that ‘my’ JB Hi-Fi had in stock.
However, this was a test purchase from my point of view, and if it took five days when there’s plenty of stock at nearby stores, how long would it take if I ordered something that had to be shipped from another state?
The collection experience wasn’t very satisfactory, either. I expected to go in, present the pickup note and proof of identity, and walk out with the goods in about a minute.
I arrived just after opening time, so there were more staff than customers and I was served immediately. Even so, it took a lot longer than I expected as the assistant had to locate the item, fiddle around with multiple computers and print various pieces of paper. To me, “ready for collection” means exactly that, not “ready for collection after we’ve done some more processing.” Would it really be that difficult to have the paperwork ready for the customer to sign, and then do any follow-up tasks afterwards?
I admit to being a demanding customer, but deny being excessively demanding. Click and collect is a good idea, but JB Hi-FI needs to work on its processes so that a pickup takes no longer than a conventional purchase.