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Subject: UKNM: Re: ecommerce Xmas wet dream or nightmare
From: Russell Buckley
Date: Wed, 8 Dec 1999 17:05:48 GMT

As a fulfilment consultancy, we've been discussing internally for some time
that this Christmas is going to be one big e-disaster, though the fact that
Dell is getting it wrong is even more a cause for worry than we were

Here's a typical scenario - slightly cynical, but I've been through it so
many times.

Whizzkid entrepreneur exits VC with promise of lots of dosh. Calls Directory
Enquiries on mobile and asks for Fulfilment Houses in London. There's only
one (us) so they ask for a meeting now - they've got a killer site, plenty
of money and now all they have to do is sort out this 'fulfilment' thing.
The VC suggested outsourcing non-essential services, so here they are.
[Leave aside the argument that fulfilment should not be regarded as

The cost of superb fulfilment doesn't fit their business model and they
can't go to the backers to explain they need to revise everything to take
this into account. So, they go to a cowboy outfit whose costs do work. After
all how important is next day delivery? Do people really want an email
confirming that their order has been 1) Received 2) Despatched and an ETA?
Blimey consumers aren't that fussy are they? No, nobody's going to want to
return goods they ordered, this is a brilliant product. What do you mean
they may want to phone or email us? - the information they need will be on
the site, for heaven's sake. Doesn't the consumer understand the concept of

The result I'm afraid will be indifferent to piss poor fulfilment and a
whole bunch of frustrated, disappointed and disillusioned consumers. It'll
put ecommerce back by 2/3 years.

If the fulfilment operation isn't designed properly and isn't well thought
through, you're going to be inundated with email and calls by justifiably
irate consumers. Plus you'll have star billing on Watchdog, which won't be

I'm not arguing that fulfilment is sexy, but it's impossible to overstate
how important it is.

Russell Buckley
The Handling Partnership

> Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 16:50:14 -0000
> From: "Sam Michel" <samatchinwag [dot] com>
> Subject: UKNM: ecommerce Xmas wet dream or nightmare?
> So, I want to order a laptop (forgetting about the fact that it's coming up
> to Xmas - far too much to do to worry about presents until the week before
> Xmas), I do it online from Dell UK.
> Reliable outfit, I think, good record of build-to-order machines and my
> friends who have their kit tell me they work well. I order, cough up the
> dough and sit back and wait. After 5 days I think, hmmm...I'll see whether
> it's built yet, their online order system will tell me.
> Gong! 'fraid not. According to their helpful support staff, they're
> experiencing "a bit of a glitch". OK, fair enough so how long will it be?
> They tell me a couple more days...
> So, 5 days later I call them up, I have to leave a message but they kindly
> return my call, which to my chagrin I miss, to tell me it'll be another 7
> days before the machine arrives. When I do finally speak to a warm (I
> assume) blooded being on the other end of the phone, they tell me "we've had
> too many orders"...
> Now, I narked, it's taken 3 weeks...so much for the convenience of online
> ordering...victims of their own success?
> What really gets me though is that this is Dell, in terms of ecommerce
> ordering and fulfilment, they're old hands, they've done this a million
> (probably) times before. If they can't get it right and I assume they have
> invested heavily in infrastructure, what chance to do the myriad of
> start-ups with little or no (or outsourced) fulfilment services have?
> I suspect the New Year is going to be a fairly uncomfortable time for all
> those companies who advertised like crazy to boost pre-Xmas sales...won't be
> much fun for the credit card companies either...maybe I just need to lie
> down for a while...
> Toodle Pip
> Sam

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  Re: UKNM: Re: ecommerce Xmas wet dream o, Dan Winchester
  Re: UKNM: Re: ecommerce Xmas wet dream o, lunch

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