The Quest for the Missing Dress

I’m not a morning person. As much as I love birds chirping and the early sun streaming in, I make a beeline to the kitchen and as the coffee is brewing I grab my phone to catch up with the world I disconnected from eight hours or so ago.

I open Facebook, scrolling through the latest posts: cute puppies, fuzzy kittens, sunsets… and some posts from brands I follow. One of my favorite fashion brands has posted a dress, and it catches my eye immediately. I click on the picture to get a better look. A winter white dress with daisies on it. The cut is perfect; the design is perfect. I don’t want this dress. I need it!

I click on the link to the retailer’s website. Landing on their site I have a sudden realization. The dress is shown in pine green, only. There is no white option. And no, it’s not sold out. There’s no note about coming soon. “That’s odd,” I think, returning to Facebook. “I did just see it there, right?” I switch to my laptop.

At this point a ‘click to chat’ option would have been great. Instead, I search for an email address for customer service saying I really want to buy this right now (read: at full price), and can someone help me. That done, I grab my coffee, it’s time to get the day started.

There’s no reply for about a week, so I send another e-mail. Another week goes by, still nothing. I go to the retailer’s Facebook page and publish this post: “I really want this dress in white as shown in your Facebook feed, it’s not available on your website, can someone help me?” They respond within a few hours.

44% of customers will post about a bad experience on social media, but 83% of those customers are happy to get any response. Just ANY response? We are humans wanting to interact with other humans. We want reassurance that someone can help us. And we want a connection with the brand.

The retailer responded to my Facebook post stating that the dress was part of a new collection and it would be coming in a few weeks. They had my e-mail, they were connected to me through Facebook, they knew I was a loyal spender. Just from my shopping habits in-store and online, wish lists and loyalty status, they had a lot of data on me. And while many retailers are effective at gathering the data, the questions is what to do with the data. Read more about Harnessing the Power Of Data in the Retail Industry, by my co-worker and retail business insights guru, Shish Shridhar.

So, did I get an email when the dress was available? Nope. It would have been so easy to walk away from this shopping journey at any point. And at this point, I did. A few months later, I found that white dress on their website. There were just a few left and it was now on sale, a small condolence for the epic delay (but score, right!?).

The shopping experience had been disconnected. How many more dresses would this retailer have sold at full price had the experience been connected and seamless? Were others also asking for it?

The way we shop is changing. The way we seek information is changing. The way we want to interact with a brand is changing. And, retailers are finding that how they market, sell and engage has to change. Because at the end of the day, people still want a relationship with the brand. And when you turn customers into fans, they tell their friends and they come back looking for more… and they go on a journey with you.

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