I am a big fan of Amazon but have never bought from them. I am a registered member for last 10 yrs and I bought 3 or 4 books on CRM around 5 years back. At that time they did not deliver the books to India so a friend of mine got it for me. I am also a regular buyer (once/twice a yr) from in Indiaplaza.com. I buy books, DVD’s gift chocolates / flowers to my parents. The first purchase must have been almost a decade back in its avatar as fabmall. Recently I was reading a lot about flipkart and had a look off and on but never had a real need to buy. I also book all my travel tickets / hotels online. So that’s my online profile so to say.
3 weeks back I wanted to buy 1 book on analytics and one on loyalty. The analytics book was not available in the stores I went to. So did a quick search online “buy books name”. While the loyalty book was available in rediff & flipkart the analytics book was available only on infibeam.com and they had the best discount. Since I was in a rush I said “What the heck ? Let me just buy it.
After selecting the books I went to payment option and tried to pay using my HDFC Card, after 3 attempts got a message the payment gateway is down or something of that sort. I was quite let down, since the analytics book was not available anywhere I clicked the “Cash on Delivery” option and clicked ok. Like it happens in all websites – I got a message with a code but no e-mail. I was so used to the process that I logged into my gmail as a reflex action. When I didn’t get the mail even after I refreshed a few times my first reaction was “Forget it, it’s just one of those websites and forgot all about it.”
1 day later – I saw an incoming call from an unknown number. Generally I do not pick up these calls but for some reason I picked up. And there was Ms Unknown in English with a Hindi touch from the website confirming the address / money etc. We are so used to the clean / propah English with a closing line and opening greeting that it was a roll back to the initial days of DSA calls. I was quite happy that I will finally get the book I want (how does it really matter how she speaks..)But I still had a nagging feeling which sort of prepared me from a possible mishap.
So I literally set a reminder, carried the money and since I would be in a meeting throughout the day, I instructed the receptionist that somebody will come with the books so ask him to call & yes I took all calls from unknown number till I heard the voice I wanted to. Yes, Mr. courier guy called exactly at lunch when I was taking my first bite. This time pukka hindi “Sir I got your books, but there is a problem I have to take a U turn to come to your office, can u please come to the main gate. I will park my bike on the other side and come to your gate & yes I am wearing a black shirt.” I tried to argue with rasam & rice in my mouth…but I gave up.
Rushed down identified my black shirt fellow who was happily listening to songs and had a brown wrapped packet in hand. No cover. No plastic just one sheet of corrugated paper. Looking at the bill I realized he got one book. Argued with him there were 2 books but he had no clue. Bu that time I had lost it…So without literally saying FO, I said wait her let me check the bill and come back. “No sir, my bike will get towed off etc.” I said “Your choice.” He decided to stay. I rushed, checked the amount, came back and paid the money and got my book. Phew!!! Yes that was my expression before I rushed into one more meeting
Next day I was in Hyderabad. I got a call from a blue dart person; I gave my colleagues name and name. He paid on my behalf and collected.
Will I go back to the website “No while the online experience was ok but the offline experience sucks”. Will I stick to “Indiaplaza” – Not sure, but I got a sms saying I can save 100/- if I but any book for 500/- & I have been waiting for the paperback version of River of Smoke – so I will definitely give it a shot. Flipkart – Yup’s in my consideration set.
But what will make or break the deal….Best Offer, dumbo. Yes based on my current experience I will never pay using my card on an unknown site but I am ok with someone like “Fashion n U” because at least 3 of my colleagues have bought from them and they have received delicate stuff like watches / perfume in perfect condition.
I know we spend huge amount of money in usability (read online experience) etc and of course they will be able measure – time spent etc etc. But is anybody measuring the offline experience because that’s the last mile and your next order is a function of the positive word of mouth you will generate – offline or online.