Online winners and losers

The past month has distinguished the nimble retailers from the sluggards, No?

Here’s my totally subjective list of winners and losers in the Wake Forest, North Carolina, area.

  • Ace Hardware — Totally inept. They are aware that some retailers are offering an online-order and curbside-delivery service, and feel that they have to offer it, too — but have absolutely no idea how to go about it. They’re okay if you’re allright to go indoors, but your blood pressure is going to skyrocket if you try to order a screwdriver online and then go pick it up.

  • Home Depot — Can’t get it done, and that’s a surprise. I’ve used their online order and pickup service in the past, and always been satisfied. Go online and place the order, and a few hours later you get an e-mail with a barcode. Show the barcode to a reader at an outside locker, and a door pops open and there’s your stuff.

    Now, the service has broken down. The store’s telephone operator told me they’re running 2-3 days behind right now because they can’t get help to come in.

  • Lowe’s — I ordered some air filters a month ago and still don’t have them. Neither will Lowe’s cancel the order and issue a refund. I’ve just cut up my Lowe’s card and won’t ever set foot in one of their goddam stores again. You’ve been warned.

  • Wal*Mart — The grocery pickup service knows what it’s doing, and does it well. Things have been a bit slower than usual lately, but the use of the service has been way up, so I don’t think I can fault them. The pharmacy pickup service, on the other hand, really needs to walk over to the grocery department and ask them how it’s done, because they haven’t ironed out all the wrinkles yet.

Online retailers:

  • Barnes & Noble is running a bit slow, but remains relatively speedy and reliable.

  • Amazon has slowed w-a-a-a-y down, and should be avoided if that’s an option.

  • JetPens is not offering free shipping right now, but still ships reliably fast. Definitely, your first choice for office supplies and related.

  • Levenger is still shipping quickly.

So, basically, except for Amazon, the online retailers that I deal with routinely are still performing well. The companies that hadn’t already started figuring-out how to do online order servicing were caught flat-footed and haven’t recovered yet.

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