Pull up! Pull up! Behold the slide to irrelevance

A friend and colleague, Kristen Stetson, asked me recently if I knew someone at The Company Store. I don’t, but when you are done reading this please pass it on if you do.

The disconnect

Kristen saw a headboard that she liked in The Company Store catalog. She was looking for a headboard so this should have resulted in a sale. She just needed to know the dimensions. They weren’t listed but she really liked the headboard and so she went online to find the missing info there.

The missed opportunity

The website did not list the dimensions either. Honestly, 98% of all customers would have stopped there, but Kristen is a catalog designer and she is smart and curious so she decided to see where this led.

Phone confusion and no save

When Kristen called customer service, they said they didn’t have that information because it was drop shipped from the vendor. Telling a customer that the item is drop shipped isn’t an answer. Customers don’t care why you can’t answer their perfectly reasonable question and 90% of them don’t know what drop ship means anyway. They said she should go online and use the chat feature to see if “they” had an answer. No sane customer would have gone back online to see if the chat feature would help. And even knowing full well that she was not going to get more information from the chat feature, but amused and still curious, Kristen went back online to see this to the end.

Technology will not save you

The chat feature was clearly a bot, with no additional information and a total waste of time. If you send your customers to bots they will not be curious or amused, they will become someone else’s customers.

How do you fix it?

There is nothing that will replace knowing your product. Nothing. If you are going to sell direct, your customers will have questions, no answer means no sale. The simple way to keep this from happening is to require the merchandise folks to get correct and complete product information for all products before turning them over to creative. While this could have been avoided if the merchandise team had created standards for product information, this should have been caught by creative and by the e-commerce team. Make your teams responsible for, and capable of, stopping the product from going out to customers if they don’t have complete information.

I hope sharing this will help The Company Store. I hope the rest of you will check that there are standards in place at your company that would keep this from happening to your customers.


P.S. To the nice folks at The Company Store, I can put you in touch with Kristen if you can find the dimensions for the Soho headboard. She really liked it…


All the best,

Sarah Fletcher

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  • Janie

    Love this. When I worked at Appleseed’s, we had a check list for each team of people proofing the final catalog. On my list as production manager: Color, care, content, country of origin. If something was missing, we didn’t print until we filled in the blank. Funny I still have that “list” memorized from 25 years ago!! I wonder who has “product dimensions” on their list at The Company Store? 🙂

  • Kathleen

    Amazing that a company that has been around as long as TCS has been is missing the boat. Not sure who’s at fault but this detail should not have been missed–as a missed sale, most likely, had been missed.

  • Lara

    They might assume you’d just buy the size according to which mattress size you own. This kind of detail seems to have been lost since they were bought by Home Depot. (Disclosure: I follow them closely since I work for a similar brand). Out of curiosity, I asked for the measurements through their product Q&A. They are now posted at the bottom of the Soho headboard page (please let Kristen know). 🙂

    • Sarah Fletcher

      Thanks for letting us know! I’ll tell Kristen.