Like so many shoppers during the holiday season, I do about 90% of my shopping online. I’m one of those people that likes it, only because I don’t have time to go into stores that much. Recently I wanted a pair of boots to wear for a specific occasion and found that Dillard’s had them (or said they did!).

I placed my order, never got a shipment email, and a week later still hadn’t received the merchandise. I went online to find out what was happening with my order. I checked the confirmation email, but it simply said the boots were “On Order,” with no explanation of what that meant. I decided to call the retailer to make sense of all this. A woman told me that the boots were “on order” from the manufacturer and wouldn’t be shipped for a few weeks, after the date I wanted them for. To boot (no pun intended) I had ordered expedited shipping which they happily charged me for!

What could Dillard’s have done differently?

  • Informed me when I ordered the boots, that they would not be in stock for a few weeks
  • Sent me an email giving me the estimated shipping date
  • Not charged me for expedited shipping

It’s all about setting expectations, and thanks to quality shopping sites like Gilt, RueLaLa, Amazon and Zappos, we’re all conditioned to expect this type of service. In fact, just yesterday Kim wrote about how Virgin America excels at proactive communication.

So when your customers are ordering products from you this holiday season, set their expectations properly by:

  • Telling your customers if you are out of a product (and let them know when you’ll have more)
  • Tell them when they need to place their order by, to guarantee shipping for the holidays
  • Ensure that they’ll be able to track their orders with your shipping company
  • Make sure that if they pay extra for expedited shipping, it counts!

Just a few things to think about before the holidays bite us all. What are you doing to prepare for the holidays?

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