(Had a bit of a chuckle about the title of this post) In Am I Repeating Myself (Part 1), I wrote of an account in I which I bought the same dress twice in a span of about one week. I’m new to blogging and I’m probably spending too much time writing, proofing, and rewriting in an effort to make my posts interesting and readable so it took about a week or so for me to write and post that blog article. It was to be getting a bit on the long side so I thought it best to break it up into three parts because there was more I wanted to say on the matter and I wanted to post pictures of the dress.
In writing about that account, I was left with three wonderments that had me pondering (perhaps you have more). First, I wondered about the effectiveness of the retailer’s advertising and marketing strategy that pitted in-store buying against ordering on-line. Routinely, I get several advertising e-mails a day from various retailers, most of which I just scan through. The majority of them offer the same savings incentives for merchandise bought either on-line or in-store and most of them give you advanced notice of upcoming offers and are valid for a specified length of time. If I hadn’t made the in-store purchase the day before I probably would have paid little attention to the first on-line discount offer I got from the retailer in question. While I often extol on the virtues of the internet, I still prefer to do most of my wardrobe shopping in person, where I can touch, feel, and try on the clothing. I enjoy the sport of shopping and I want to have the item(s) in hand when I make a purchase. With on-line shopping I often find the front view only picture and brief description of an item to be quite lacking. My on-line clothing purchases are usually limited to items I saw in a store but the size needed was not available or for replacements of worn out items I have bought in the past. My reaction to that first “one day only” on-line offer was mostly annoyance at the retailer because I had paid more for my purchase than I could have less than 24 hours later and I had gotten no prior notice of an upcoming sale. This negative experience may affect my future desires to frequent that retailer. One detail I didn’t include in the previous post was that my prize for the in-store purchase was a coupon good for $30 off a purchase of $75 that I would have to wait about a month to use. I would have to buy more to get this savings. I’m not buying it.
My next wonderment is whether or not the retailer is truly benefiting the expected psychological impact of this strategy. It is my guess that by implying that there is a limited window of opportunity for a savings offer that the retailer expects a buyer to respond immediately. While there initially may be some interest generated, wouldn’t the consumer begin to become unaffected by the offers made in the e-mails that are received so frequently and not in sync with the consumer’s shopping habits? After all, the e-mail recipient list doesn’t change overnight so anyone getting today’s email likely also got the one from the day before. The reality of the matter is that a savings opportunity will be available again and again. I don’t know if this is a real thing but the effect might be like what happened in ‘the boy who cried wolf’ and consumers begin to ignore retailer.
The third wonderment I pondered on was the ‘cost’ of retailer’s strategy that resulted in me purchasing the same items twice and then returning one set of the items. The items purchased on-line at 30% off would also have to bear the ‘cost’ of the transactions that took place with the initial in-store purchase and subsequent in-store return of these items. I suppose that this is a key issue in the brick-and-mortar verses e-commerce conflict but I thought the war was between traditional retailers and internet based retailers. It has been reported that consumers will often ‘shop’ an item at traditional retailer in order to touch, feel, and try it on in person and then buy it on-line from a separate internet retailer that sells it at a lower price than the traditional retailer. However in the case of my dress, the brick-and-mortar and the internet retailers were one in the same (at least as far as I know). I can use the same retailer credit card at both locations and I can return on-line purchases at any of the brick-and-mortar locations. Since I had not yet worn the in-store purchase dress, there was nothing in the retailer’s return policy that prevented me from returning that dress whether or not I had also purchased it on-line at a discount. In fact it was quite telling, that when I did return the dress (and the two tops), the cashier was surprised that I had paid full price for the items and questioned why I would do that. Why indeed.