Executional excellence sets standard

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Carol Krol, editor in chief, Direct Marketing News
Carol Krol, editor in chief, Direct Marketing News

The news grabbing headlines this month was eBay's $2.4 billion acquisition of e-commerce services giant GSI Commerce, its bid to take on industry leader Amazon.com. You'll find our own analysis here. E-commerce remains at the forefront of marketing conversations as merchants such as Macy's refine digital storefronts to engage savvy shoppers, and Google rolls out its +1 tool that augments recommendation aspects of search. 

Alex Tosolini, VP of global e-business for Procter & Gamble (P&G), spoke at the Bazaarvoice Social Commerce Summit last month about how technology brings P&G closer to customers. He referenced the Old Spice "Smell Like a Man" campaign and talked about how "executional excellence" in marketing initiatives "is as important as strategy and innovation." 

Marketers should take that comment to heart. Online commerce has become more challenging, even with the latest chat, reviews, recommendations and mobile tools, but when not integrated well, results can be disastrous. Case in point: I bought a purse through eBags, my first — and as it would turn out my last — purchase with them. I 
found it elsewhere online, but eBags won on price. I was dismayed shipping took more than a week, but happy when it finally arrived. Until I opened the box. They sent the wrong product. On April 18, I contacted eBag's live chat, and "Mario" was polite and apologetic. "We are processing a replacement order...and it will be shipped second day air at no cost to you." Then: "It will reach you on April 27." Nine days? 

Mario explained delivery dates are calculated based on warehouse location, shipping address and "processing time in the warehouse." I politely asked for a supervisor; surely they could do better? "There is no supervisor," he types, and instructs me to "call eBags." But I'm already talking to eBags. Now I need to begin a new conversation with a phone rep? Major disconnect.

I cancel my order, and a few keystrokes later, I've purchased the bag from Zappos.com and happily paid the higher price. Why? Because I'll have the product in a few days, and I know from past experience they — through phone, chat or email — will be empowered to fix any problem that might arise.

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