Friday, October 10, 2014

Vendor Shipped Direct: Not Always Direct
by Charlotte Tang

Like most millennials, I order a lot of stuff online. Amazon Prime makes it a weekly, if not daily, occurrence. And, as someone who recently got married, I’ve had lots of wedding gifts delivered over the last few months. With all these shipments sometimes deliveries don’t go as planned. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience—but, for sure, you don’t want this to happen to your customers.

One of our wedding gifts was a gift card to a store that sells kitchen and home items. I placed an order for three items: a honey pot for the 5 lb. tub of honey we received from a guest’s apiary; a Silpat, which is a non-stick baking mat for lining cookie sheets; and a kitchen floor mat that prevents fatigue from standing. The first two items were shipping from the company we purchased them from, but the kitchen mat was marked as “Vendor Shipped”, which I’m familiar with from collecting vendorshipped-direct data through our Parts Benchmarks each year. What happened next was a comedy of errors.

I placed the order on a Monday evening. The website said standard shipping takes 7-10 business days, but the floor mat would take 10-14 days for delivery. The floor mat shows up after about a week and a half. I hadn’t received a shipment confirmation, so that was a surprise. I get it out and lay it on the kitchen floor. It’s the wrong size (longer than the one I ordered), color (lighter than the one I ordered), and pattern (basket-weave instead of cobblestone). Oh well, it fits and I don’t feel like making a fuss.

A few days later I get a message from UPS (through MyChoice) that I have a delivery scheduled. I come home from work on a Friday and find only a return shipping label stuck to the front door listing “floor mat return” in the memo field. Huh? I guess they want me to send back the one that was wrong. I wonder why no one called to ask me to do that. We put it outside on Monday, but no one comes to take it. Finally, on Wednesday it’s picked up, and the correct mat is dropped off.
Side note: I checked the tracking info on the returned floor mat, and it took several extra days to get delivered due to multiple “recipient has moved, trying to locate new address” errors. What is wrong with this vendor?
The other items in the order had gone missing, despite being reported delivered. The store replaced those items, and we received that package without issue. Then, soon after, another floor mat shows up. It’s been over three weeks since the initial order now. Hmmm, okay, what do we do with this extra one? Can we keep it? Should we return it? I contact the store again. They tell me:
That duplicate was ordered for you as a result of a lost package claim. That claim is closed now, so we would like you to keep that duplicate mat. You were not charged for it, so if you cannot use it please feel free to give it away or donate it to a local food bank or charity of your choice.
I guess no one noted in their records that only the first two items went missing, but not the third?
Side note: I checked the order status again when writing this. The order was placed in July, and the website still says it’s processing. I never received a shipment confirmation for any of the packages. Maybe a 3rd round will show up someday?
I’ve always heard that dealers were less satisfied with vendor ship-direct (VSD) orders than those fulfilled directly by the OEM. This was my first (known) VSD order, and I have to say, I agree with them. Your customers will judge you on the entire order and delivery experience, and if your vendors are not up to par, it reflects poorly on the whole experience. They say all’s well that ends well, but I’m going to stick with in-store purchases from this store in the future.

Bottom Line: What do your delivery policies say about you? Do you resolve issues quickly and without undue hassle for the customers? Do your vendors live up to your delivery standards?

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