retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB reader Alan Finta:

Regarding the “Perfect Holiday Storm” for e-tailers…my house already has a “doozy” of a delivery situation that I have to imagine will be played out tens of thousands of times over the next couple weeks.

My wife ordered nine items online from a major national retailer.  After a few days she received a UPS notification that the package had arrived, but it had not.  Upon further review, she found it had been delivered to the local post office.  The UPS email notification  “confirmed” that the Post Office had delivered it to our home, but they had not (or it was stolen?).  She went to the retailer’s website to review the order and found part of the order (3 items) was being delivered via UPS, the “second part” of the order was being delivered via Fed Ex (those six items arrived yesterday). 
 
My wife then called UPS who told her that she must contact the retailer.  She did, was initially told she needed to contact UPS, but then worked it out and posted a claim.  Results TBD.
 
We’re not concerned about “getting it before Christmas” so it’s not a huge deal for us, but it is mind boggling to think of the logistics needed to deliver this one order across three different shipping companies (UPS, Fed Ex, and the Post Office).  Lots of moving pieces, lots of room for error, lots of room for frustrated customers…


And another story, from another reader:

My wife and I tried using Walmart to purchase a train set for our son.  She ordered the train set on line and was given a date to pick it up.  I thought great finally Walmart got something right for once this seemed easy and simple the way I like it.  Well the day came to pick up the train set.  We had our two sleeping kids in the car so she told me to wait in the car and she would run into the store to grab it and be right out.  45 minutes later I had to take both kids into the store to look for her.  I found her with the train set and helped her out to the car.  It took the employees 40 minutes to locate our purchase is there back room.  What was supposed to be simple and quick was not.  Walmart's online offerings will do them no good if they can't fix their customer service.  I should have bought it though Amazon.  I also get a chuckle of the new Walmart commercials  that show how smooth the checkout process is during the holidays.  If only the stores could live up to the commercial.

Hell of an ideas for an ad campaign there, I think. Show a series of vignettes in which people have bad experiences ordering products online or in stores, with each one ending with the customer looking at the camera and saying, "I should've bought it on Amazon."
KC's View: