I bought an iPod today as a gift. I needed the item today, but didn’t want to dink around in the store, just pick it up on my way home and be done with it. So, I went to BestBuy.com and ordered the gift to be picked up at the store.
For anyone who’s heard me bitch about BestBuy before you are
probably wondering why the hell I still shop there. The truth is that I’ve had nightmarish
service, but I’ve also had some real help. Another time perhaps I'll recount all the best and worst stories.
From my vantage point, BestBuy has mostly excellent young people on the front lines who are working with complete incompetents in the corporate back office. Case in point today: So I ordered the iPod, which the Web site told me the store had in stock, at around 2PM. This is pretty good software integration, I as a consumer know which stores have the item I want in stock. After purchasing (and probably before, I think they disclosed everything well) I got a message with pick-up instructions. Basically, wait till we send you an email that the item is ready, usually about an hour, sometimes longer for a credit card that hasn’t been used on BestBuy.com before. Not really a real-time enterprise, but no problem I figure, I’ll leave the office around 5:30 anyway and pick it up at 6, should be plenty of time.
I used my BestBuy credit card (hell the money’s free for 6 months…very expensive after that though) which hadn’t been used on the site before but still I figured should help speed the process. It didn’t, and I began getting nervous around 5. Around 5:15 I called the store which took a bit of time, but the staff worked hard to get me a resolution. They said I can come and just buy one and then cancel the order on the second or just not pick it up, either way my card won’t be charged.
Anyway, I went to the store, checked with customer service to see if BestBuy.com (a.k.a. the mother ship of the supply chain one would think) had sent word that my iPod was ready. They hadn’t, at which point I asked if there was someone they could call to speed the process, there wasn’t. They reassured me that I wouldn’t be charged twice, just don’t pick up the second one, and buy one now. Which I did. I logged on tonight to receive an email seven hours later that my iPod is ready. Hmmm…
I’m not angry with my experience, but I really shake my head that a company of BestBuy’s scale, who is trying to attract the sophisticated customer (not necessarily me mind you), can have such a poorly integrated distribution system. This is a software problem which I think is really inexcusable given what that brand wants to achieve and what others in similar businesses have already achieved. The whole purpose of In Store Pickup is lightning fast convenience…hell, they should have kiosks all over the store to BestBuy.com where I could entirely bypass the check out stand. If they can tell me ahead of time that an item's in stock, then they can make the rest of it work. Instead they will have a new 20GB iPod sitting behind their customer service counter for the next 8 days where as inventory it will lose value but yet not be available for sale. This is not that difficult an integration problem, and one I think BestBuy had better get on.
real time enterprise