Slow Delivery Options Turns "Tears of Joy" into Tears of Disappointment

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I’ve heard great things about Austin, TX from many people, but never had a chance to visit until recently.   I was lucky enough to have a few business meetings that brought me there with my colleague.   Not only did we have great meetings with partners and customers but we also got to get a little taste of Austin in a short time.

While the food was great – and I had plenty of it while there – one of my favorite parts of the trip was shopping.  I had to be careful because I traveled with a carry-on bag and I will do anything to avoid checking luggage, but I was determined to buy a pair of cowboy boots in Texas.   Not that I can’t buy cowboy boots at plenty of places in Las Vegas, but there is something about the cowboy mystique in Texas that just makes it more special.

I headed to Allen’s Boots in the trendy SoCo (South Congress) area, and found my perfect pair. Now that my personal search was over, it was time to buy a couple of gifts.   My husband loves hot sauce, so when I came across Tears of Joy on 6th, I knew it was a shop that I needed to see.  I was excited for the first 30 seconds, until I realized that the majority of hot sauce bottles are not “carry on friendly” bottles of 3 ounces or less.  Luckily, the shop owner realizes this can be a limitation for some and carries some sauces in smaller bottles.  Specifically, their signature locally made sauces.   I picked up a bottle of Austin in August with hopes that my husband will enjoy it.

But when I saw a large bottle of one of my favorite brands from Belize, I was tempted to stray from my plan and just check my bag, but the image of hot sauce breaking in my suitcase and destroying my new boots is too tough to bear,  so I reluctantly put the bottle down.

When I get back to my hotel room, I decide to see if Tears of Joy has a website in case August in Austin becomes a must have in our pantry, or if I could have my precious Marie Sharps shipped to me in Las Vegas.

What I find on the Tears of Joy website is disappointing:

“We ship via the United States Postal Service (USPS). The options for domestic shipping are Parcel Post and Priority Mail. We do not overnight packages. Parcel Post shipping time is 6 – 10 business days (weekends are not included) and Priority Mail is 3 – 5 business days. USPS offers NO tracking for any of these shipping methods. Orders received will be processed and shipped within 2 days of receipt, but usually the same day. Shipping cost is calculated via the USPS website.”

Being someone who is used to Amazon Prime shipping, the thought of waiting 6-10 business days seems like an eternity to me, and to have to pay more for priority mail that does not include tracking for hot sauce that costs less than $10 a bottle also seems pointless to me.   I’m not alone in my thinking.  According to a Voxware survey of over 600 consumers, 48% of respondents expect their online delivery to arrive within 4 days assuming standard (i.e. free or close to free) shipping.

So, what’s the takeaway for other ecommerce retailers?

  1. Ecommerce retailers are competing with a very competitive ecosystem, including fast online shipping from Amazon Prime and other ecommerce sites, multichannel retailers who offer things like in-store pick-up, and pure play brick and mortar retailers.
  2. Consumer expectation of speed is influenced by offerings like Amazon Prime and consumers expect that most products should be able to be delivered within 4 days at no cost or very little cost to them.
  3. The expectation of tracking a package is the norm.   Perhaps this is why USPS is losing the game against UPS and FedEx.
  4. Consider how your shipping and delivery options influence your customer at point of purchase.   A recent study by Comscore found that 55% of consumers abandoned an online shopping cart because total shipping costs made the purchase cost more than expected and 60% expect an estimated or guaranteed delivery date at checkout.
  5. If you can’t meet consumer expectations with fast online shipping, you can easily lose that customer (and all their potential referrals) for life.
  6. Consider outsourcing fulfillment to a dedicated ecommerce fulfillment company that can provide fast online shipping solutions. Doing so can help you increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The moral of the story:  Austin in August is good, but I’m sure I can find plenty of local hot sauce in Las Vegas that will provide me instant gratification.