Free Delivery at Myer - is it too little too late?

Free Delivery at Myer – is it too little too late?

Myer today announced that it is offering free shipping for online orders. According to the news.com.au report, currently $5million is spent on the Myer website annually, and there are ambitions to drive this closer to $50million.

Will free shipping make a difference?
But is it too little, too late? Australians are already shopping online at local and overseas retailers, but to achieve the ambitions stated by Myer, surely more than saving a few dollars on shipping will be required.

To counter the volume of online sales occurring at overseas retailers, some of the major retailers tried to pressure the government to lift the restrictions that allow purchases under $1000 to not have to pay GST.

It remains to be seen whether the small differences of free shipping or perhaps adding 10% to purchases if the GST was applied, will make Australians any more likely to shop online with local retailers.

The internet introduced transparency to the Australian shopper – it is incredibly simple for shoppers to gain an understanding of comparable prices, particularly at overseas retailers. Although retailers can explain away why they have to charge high prices, due to high local retail rental, higher local wages, ultimately many Australian shoppers still feel that prices are too high.

Have Australian retail sites understood the user experience?
The other thing that many overseas retail sites have going for them, which many Australian retailers haven’t yet achieved, is the ease of the shopping experience. Too many Australian online retail sites are overly complicated, or don’t function the way users expect them to.

Perhaps a small example, but searching for an item on the Myer site today, returned a result of content that doesn’t seem particularly relevant. Showing me a video of Tim the Towel man from November 2010 is probably less relevant than showing me some towels, as that’s what I’m there to buy.

The other major flaw with some department store websites is the restricted inventory they provide online. Another example from Myer, looking at bed linen. There appears to be only three choices of bed linen – this is Myer! I’ve seen their linen department, surely there’s more options than this?

Try as I might, I can’t find any other options – I’ve tried the search, I’ve tried the ‘find by brand’ option, and it appears, that there really is only three options. The same can be said for sheets. Hoping this is an anomaly, I try looking for dinnersets – that’s another thing you’re guaranteed to find in Myer, right?

Well – maybe not – still waiting to be uploaded by the look of it from this result:

What a shame – the products aren’t uploaded yet!

But what is Myer’s online proposition actually about?
To me, Myer is a department store (in the offline world), where I can find most things in one place, know that the brands they stock are good quality, and expect to have a generally good shopping experience. The experience I’ve had online doesn’t match this – it’s almost the opposite of what I expect, from a brand perspective. And the only difference is that I’m now online – it doesn’t have to be like this and it’s a shame Myer’s online proposition doesn’t match the offline proposition and my expectations.

Creating buzz about an offer of free shipping will achieve some media as we’ve seen today and drive some traffic to the site. A lacklustre online retail experience won’t hit the mark with consumers, so hopefully these few examples I’ve stumbled upon are quickly resolved.

Improving the user experience and providing the full inventory of products online would probably achieve just as much as offering free shipping. The cost of shipping is irrelevant if shoppers can’t find the products they want, or the shopping experience is too frustrating. Remembering that people’s patience online is very short, alternative shopping options with better user experiences, cheaper prices and more choice will always only be a click away.

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