eCommerce Experience in SA – Mr Price Home

mr-price-home-dropped the ball

After all this time one would think that at least the larger players have nailed the eCommerce experience, not so?

In recent years the big players (TFG, Takealot etc) have invested large sums of money on large international enterprise systems to support local eCommerce – thinking the Tech would help them solve the game of eCommerce. But sadly, after spending up to half a bar per year on some of these systems and hours and hours on training and retrofitting processes and websites, the systems are still letting them down. The systems aren’t the problem (money lost spent aside).

With Shopify and Woocommerce entering the market, making it easy for any SMB to build a store and market it online (for hellova lot less money, easier UX & User-friendly training), the tech is kind of handled even in this level of trade.

But I’m still seeing not only tech letting companies down, but moreover their customer service. 

“The single most critical factor in the success of online retail activities, as reflected in this survey, is customer service. No less than 75% of respondents regarded it as highly significant, with another 23% seeing it as somewhat important, giving it a 98% importance rating.” – TechCentral 2018

So why are they still not listening? And why are we still seeing poor customer service when they’re all battling to make this eCommerce thing work?

What amount of trade are we actually talking here?

A few years ago (circa 2015) South Africa’s eCommerce contribution to overall GDP was only 1%. Over the last two years we were optimistic that it was geared to reach as “high” as 3%, but with our overall economic slump, and despite our high internet & mobile penetration, we’ve only managed to increase by 25% since 2017 and are sitting at 1.4 % according to the most recent study by World Wide Worx.

If this is the piece of the pie everyone is fighting over, why are retailers not trying harder to win over their customers?

I have some insight from a recent dealing with one of the “bigger retailers”. Sadly, from my most recent experience with Mr Price Home, I will never buy through their online portal again. This may be one example of many, but this is why eCommerce is failing in this country.

Mr Price Home Table Delivery fail

I have a product in a box in a terrible state, on my floor, taking up space. I can’t do anything with it, and no-one will give me any feedback on when my query will be resolved.

*just to clarify, the box did not arrive looking this way, the holes on the top were there, but not the ripping. That was the delivery guys opening to check if there was damage to product, they were not graceful in the unboxing – but rest is not the way it arrived, just the way it currently is.

My Mr Price Home eCommerce experience:

I searched high and low to find a new dining table and eventually ended up really liking one from Mr Price Home store. Once I sold my old dining table (through Facebook Marketplace as opposed to Gumtree); I visited my top 5 store finds physically to view the tables in person. (I still find that our digital experience does not quite capture, nor provide enough confidence for me to just click and buy without seeing it – another point retailers should put more emphasis on. ) Ended up liking Mr Price Home the best, and although they had it in-store on the day of my visit, I opted not to take it with me as I actually wanted t0 test their eCommerce experience.

I reckoned that if I bought it online, I should receive it within 5 days of order latest.

Here’s where things went wrong:

  1. The checkout procedure – Sign-up to buy online was relatively seamless. Checkout & payment was fine, but once bought, I received no email confirmation of the purchase whatsoever. I saw it deduct from my card, there was an onscreen confirmation, but nothing in email. This was the first step where my trust was broken.
  2. Delivery Cost – Expecting to pay R50 delivery fee according to their own terms since I am within 50km of a major metro, I was charged R350 – only to discover that larger items have a higher fee – which wasn’t made clear to me on order.
  3. The date of estimated delivery – I was hoping 3-7 working days as it states on their site, but my estimation of delivery was 11 days post purchase! But it was actually delivered on the 6th day. There was zero communication about this via email, even though their site claims to send updates.
  4. The delivery process – They actually called on the Monday (4 days post purchase) to confirm delivery for the following day. On their call on delivery day, I was out of reception area (but someone was home to receive it), and they just didn’t deliver at all due to not being able to take the call. I did not have any communication nor email asking when would be the next convenient time, nor did anyone try to call me again. I called their dispatch office two days post to follow-up, and finally it was delivered the following day. (day 6 post purchase)
  5. Receiving the product – Delivery people were friendly and carried item into the house. The box it came in however was badly damaged – which I pointed out to them and said I’d like to check it before they leave. They proceeded to rip the box open (pictured above), and luckily the item was not damaged – but it was missing parts!

Thinking this should be a seamless procedure to have the missing items delivered (what was I thinking?!) it was not.

Here is the experience with their customer service:

  1. First Call – I called immediately after the delivery. Spoke to someone in their customer care centre who asked that I just email them photos of the product so they could see what was missing and they would get back to me. Fair enough. I did this same day.
  2. Email – automated response received back. NO FURTHER FOLLOW-UP WHATSOEVER TO MY QUERY!
  3. Email Follow-ups – I proceeded to send another ticket and more follow-ups on the original ticket (x3). I have not received anything back to this day, besides a reply on the second ticket I opened stating “someone else is already dealing with this”.
  4. Social Media – On Saturday morning (two days post incident), after having no luck with the ticket system, I reached out to the social media teams on Facebook. I messaged both Mr Price and Mr Price Home pages. I received a reply back from Mr Price Page within an hour, but have still not received a reply from Mr Price Home at all. The SM team’s response was: “Please note the below query has been escalated to our Quality team and we will provide feedback shortly once we receive an update on our end.
    1. Now I don’t know about you, but to me “provide feedback shortly” means that someone will get back to you at latest within same day. This did not happen.
    2. I reached out to the Mr Price page again the following day as I had not received any feedback via SM or other, and their response again was: “Please note the below query has been escalated to our Quality team and we will provide feedback shortly once we receive an update on our end. Please give us till tomorrow to contact you.
    3. If their Customer Service team does not work on weekends, they should’ve rather said, We will get back to you on Monday, not “provide feedback shortly“.
  5. Call 2 – called the helpline again on Monday – twice and twice was cut-off before anyone even picked up their side. ie their lines were faulty or down!
  6.  SM – again turned to SM page and after 1.5hrs received a reply on channel stating they are looking into it.

It’s been a total of 5 days and this is STILL NOT RESOLVED. Do you think I’ve had one call or update on my original ticket from any of the channels? No. Nothing whatsoever. No calls, still no emails and no resolution on what I thought would be a simple fix.

If they can’t find the missing items, why not suggest that I return and they will swap it out for me? Or better yet? We’re really sorry for your inconvenience during this process, we will send a delivery truck to drop off a new table and collect the one with missing parts at the same time. Now that would be customer service.

And that is why I will never purchase anything through their website again.

And until we get this kind of stuff resolved, eCommerce will keep failing. Every year we look to the guys that do this well, like YuppieChef, whom I love! And I love them for good reason. They put customer service first.

Why does this work in other countries?

You might be wondering why in, for example, USA more people buy online than in-store? Trust.

They trust

  1. the item will arrive in good order, if it doesn’t it’s super quick and efficient process to have it returned, refunded or swapped
  2. the item will usually arrive within same day or within 24 hours
  3. customer service is exceptional. It has to be due to all the competition.

Would you like me to test any other eCommerce experience? Let me know in the comments below or email me.


UPDATE: 11 JUNE 2019

Since posting this yesterday, I immediately received a call from Mr Price Home as well as the Logistics Company (who will remained undisclosed). I actually received a few calls between them, including one from the Logistics company’s management team in Durban wanting me to recount my experience. Sadly it seemed that the teams were now infighting over who was to blame, as opposed to working on solving the process issues. I got the missing bolts delivered to me first thing the following day, and they even came to put the table together for me. Nice touch, thank you. 

BUT, later the day I received a call from the Logistics company management team again, asking me to retract this post. 

I’m sorry that you all missed the point of this post.

It was not to only get the items – I probably could’ve gone to source it from Builders Warehouse myself. It was for you to learn something from the mistake, but I doubt you have. If your customer service team had only acknowledged the issue, were transparent and kept me up to date, this would’ve probably not transpired. Now, sadly all you care about after having delivered the item is that I retract what happened? Thanks for the item and solving this issue in 24 hours, but what would this have looked like if I had not posted this blog? It’s a shame that we have to resort to shaming publicly before Companies pay attention to us. And again, point of the article – that is not customer service.

One thought on “eCommerce Experience in SA – Mr Price Home

  1. Thanks for such a well written article and review of your experience.
    And I completely agree, I’ve had a similar experience with Mr. Price. Woolworths has always been good. Takealot has been ok. Though it would be great if they could narrow their time slots more, and also. Takealot seems to have grown too big and accept no responsibility for quality of goods, or authenticity of goods. I would be purchasing way more items online if I trusted the company and what I was going to receive.

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