How not to make an online store

I recently ordered some clothing items off a new Irish online store and it really highlighted how poorly people value the web in this country. I purchased some clothes in a retail shop in Cork and wanted to check out the online store advertised on the tag. To be clear the online store was for the clothing item not the retail shop I bought it in. Actually the store I bought the items from doesn't even sell items online but that's another issue ;)

This clothing web store was quite basic, as most Irish stores tend to be but it was easy to use and had what I was looking for so I put an item into the basket and proceeded to checkout the order through PayPal. Everything went through ok but after payment I noticed some short comings with the site. First off I only received a PayPal receipt. The store itself didn't email me my order confirmation or give me an order number! The PayPal receipt mentioned a different company name and email contact than the one I ordered from. From doing some digging around it turned out to be a parent company of the store I bought from but this is definitely not the thing you want your customers to have to spend time finding out. From a customer point of view this didn't fill me with confidence.

The problem now is that I have had no actual confirmation of my order with this store. I gave the company the benefit of the doubt and I did not contact them until a week and a half had passed. After I had received no email about my order being received or items being posted I sent them off an email to them asking if they received the order and forwarded my PayPal receipt showing that they had taken payments on the same day from me. No reply to that email either.

I usually look out for contact email and phone numbers for online stores before making a purchase on any site but overlooked it for this order. I won't be making this mistake again! I noticed that this store didn't have a contact number or email address visible anywhere. They just had an online contact form but that could be going anywhere.

As it stands I have not received my items and I am in the process of cancelling this order using PayPal.

It's funny that after my previous article on how to make a great online store I manage to find one that nearly misses every point and crucially fails to hit the number one point of "Always keep the customer informed". The sad thing is, the majority of people in Ireland running online stores fail to give their store the proper time and attention it needs. When we deliver online stores to our clients we always make sure to teach them how to communicate with their customers effectively. In fact our store software does most of the communication for them. Store owners should just follow these basic rules:

  • If you make a payment, send the customer an order number and order summary.
  • When fulfilling an order, email the customer to let them know their item is posted out to them or if you are waiting on stock. Don't have the customer contact you about these issues.
  • Clearly display your contact details on your site. Don't hide your contact info as it looks like you are hiding something yourself!
  • Be pro active about your store!

I've decided not to name and shame here as my issue is still ongoing but hopefully this post will inspire some online store owners to get their act together. What about you? Have you had any bad online shopping experiences? What were they and did you manage to get those issues resolved?

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