An Omnichannel Mixed Bag, Delivered in a Box

As someone who lives, eats, sleeps and writes frequently about omnichannel – the desire of consumers to have a retail genie at hand to grant their every order fulfillment wish – it’s always interesting when I find myself actually participating in the “anytime, anywhere, anyhow” behavior.

My wife and I were in a Bob’s Stores location near our home in southwestern Connecticut just before the holidays, looking for wet/snowy weather footgear. She didn’t have much luck – that came later via Santa Claus, by way of JC Penney – but I found a pair of light-duty hiking shoes on the discount rack that fit the bill nicely. Unfortunately they didn’t fit my feet quite as well.

So I sat down on one of those low “try on shoes” seats – what the heck are they called, anyway? – pulled out my Android and searched for the shoe at Bobs.com, while my wife roamed the racks in vain. Lo and behold, there it was, and free shipping to boot! Even better, there was an online discount coupon that when entered at checkout made it exactly the same price as the pair on the rack.

One more click, and they were on their way – for the win!

Two days later, the shoes arrived via UPS. They fit perfectly – I had to guess in the store, bumping up a half size – after using a pair of heavy socks. But the shipping box was something else again:

shoes-2

In addition to writing about omnichannel, I’ve also written extensively on dimensional weight pricing. This is where the major carriers have changed their pricing formula for ecommerce parcels to capture more revenue and offset the cost of shipping lots of air.

It’s been a couple of years now since DIM was expanded to include all domestic ground shipments by UPS and FedEx, and most merchants have adjusted their shipping practices accordingly to lessen the hit and bottom-line impact. Some common practices include using custom box sizing machines that fit the package to the product, or in the case of large-volume shippers, negotiating some relief in the form of a custom DIM divisor.

Judging by my order I’m wondering if Bob’s Stores has received the DIM memo. It’s entirely possible this was a fluke, dispatched in the mad rush of peak holiday season operations. But I found it surprising in late 2016 to get a box inside a box that was more than twice its cubic dimensions.

It was no skin off my nose with free shipping, but here’s hoping that Bob’s Stores gets more economical in its ecommerce operations in 2017!

Mike O’Brien is Senior Content Manager of Multichannel Merchant

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