I’m not griping. I love Costco. Where else can you get a 55-gallon drum full of pretzels and a overpack of paper towels that you can’t get in the trunk, all in the same place? But I recently tried to buy a laptop for a classroom. This resulted in an object lesson on how poorly integrated eCommerce resulted in a bit of inconvenience for me and a potential lost opportunity for Costco.

I was asked to purchase an inexpensive laptop for a church classroom at the church I attend. I was, in fact, directed to buy this particular model from another member who found it.  As a Costco member I was able to purchase the model that he had mentioned:

Or so I thought. Later that same day, I received this email, with no explanations or suggestions:

I happened to be going by our local Costco on the way home from a trip on Saturday the 20th. On a whim, I decided to look in on the electronics department. The laptop was there, in stock, and I purchased it and took it home.

There were opportunities for Costco to lock this sale in earlier and make me a happier customer:

Suggest Store Pick-up

When I ordered it, that should have been an option in the first place. I wasn’t in a hurry for it, but they didn’t know that. If I’d needed it same-day and gone to the store site, the suggestion that I pick one up from their local stock would have saved the sale. Costco doesn’t offer free shipping, so I had originally agreed to pay for 3-4 day shipping to avoid a trip. I didn’t know I would be going by there at the time.

Ship from Store

Assuming I ordered it and wanted it shipped, what faster place to ship from than a store about 5 miles from my office? That’s where I wanted it delivered. This would have provided next-day service at a ground price for me, and maximum leverage for Costco on the vast inventory they keep in their stores nationwide. In fact, they could have shipped it from Mobile, Birmingham, or lots of other places, had they been out of stock locally.

Suggest an Alternative

If they were out of this model, they possibly could have sold me on an alternative. Candidly, I had been thinking that we should have considered a bit peppier laptop, and an email suggesting another model could have been just the ammunition I needed. They had some valuable marketing data – a customer who went so far as to put a laptop in an online shopping cart and complete the sale – and they didn’t capitalize on it. Talk about low-hanging fruit!

Again, this is not a gripe session about Costco. In fact, they’re typical of a lot of retailers whose eCommerce needs to be better integrated with their physical stores. There are solutions like Magento Order Management that can help with that. Costco, if you’re reading this, my first consulting session is free!

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