Editor's Letter: After the sale

I have a confession to make to the readers of Internet Retailer. I love Amazon.com.

Allison Enright

I have a confession to make to the readers of Internet Retailer. I love Amazon.com.

There, I've said it, and even put it in print. Go ahead and throw darts at this letter if that makes you feel better.

Let me tell you why. I shop online a lot, most frequently with Amazon using Prime shipping. I continue to shop elsewhere online though, as my pre-sorted e-mail "shopping" inbox can attest with its thousands of unread promotional e-mails. When the mood strikes, I'll open that shopping folder, scan subject lines until I see something appealing, and click through to shop. That's what I did nine days ago, nabbing a pair of boots from a brand I like for a great price. The $10 flat-rate shipping fee required by the e-retailer made me waver a bit at checkout. I proceeded to check if Amazon had the boots, and it did. But the price wasn't as good, so I clicked back to this competitor and paid up.

But nine days later, I still haven't received my order. And that's after I paid for shipping. That annoys me. But what annoys me even more is when I checked the shipping notice I saw that it took five days for this retailer, which ranks among the top 150 in North America by web sales, to make the handoff to UPS. That's utterly ridiculous when compared to the mere hours, if that, that elapse from when I complete an Amazon order and Amazon sends me a text letting me know its shipped.

Because I'm an e-commerce nerd, I have to admit that those texts please me. They make me say "wow" and think that Amazon really has its act together. Testing Amazon's fulfillment process is part of the fun of shopping there. When I get my order the next day, which happens about half the time, or the second day, as Prime promises, I'm impressed. And, very importantly from a customer satisfaction standpoint, I'm still excited about having made the purchase.

But after nine days, that excitement is gone. I'm an admitted shoe fanatic, so I'll probably be happy to get my boots whenever they do arrive, but my pleasure will be with the product, not the retailer I bought them from. When the package arrives on my desk, my reaction will be "finally," not "yay!"

I encourage you to think about how your own customers react when they receive their orders from you when you read this issue's cover story "Bursting at the Seams," written by associate editor Amy Dusto. It points out the infrastructure cracks that are emerging as web sales grow rapidly, and asks what e-retailers are doing to patch them so they meet consumers' ever-higher expectations.

Allison Enright, Editor


Amazon.com Inc., April 2014 magazine, flat-rate shipping, fulfillment and delivery, fulfillment and warehousing services