I had to do this for a class I’m taking as part of the MBA program I’m enrolled in at Loyola College. Since I think it may be of interest to many of you, I have decided to post it here as well. Apologies for formatting issues, I’ve got to cut and paste from MS Word.
Web Site: http://www.gogamer.com
Item Purchased: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 (video game) for Playstation 2
For this Shopping Experience Audit I have chosen to eliminate some fields which were not applicable. The purchase experience I was looking for as a shopper was a low-involvement, one-time purchase in which I did not desire much in the way of personalization, community features, etc. Likewise, I believe this particular market has alternative channels that provide the community aspects associated with video games (various sites associated with reviews, tips, etc.). I believe that a commercial organization attempting to establish community features would be a bit transparent and ineffective in a market largely comprised of technologically-savvy and generally skeptical 12-30 year old males. For this reason I have addressed a number of these concepts below, but eliminated some of the criteria so as not to simply make the same point a thousand times over. I have provided some additional elaboration though (as I’m sure you’ll discover) with regard to the site Navigation and some other more crucial issues in my estimation. Additionally, I added ratings for delivery and security.
A. Customer Service Total: 12/20
- Overall Rating: 2/4
The customer service was adequate at best. The site had a few helpful self-service features and the automated email confirmations were useful, yet the one time I tried to send an email and hoped to get a response from an actual person regarding my order I was let down.
- Guarantee Rating: 2/4
I saw no mention of any guarantee on the website. However, being as this product is a standard one – that is to say that the video game is going to perform identically regardless of what retail outlet it is purchased at, so long as it has not been tampered with – I did not see this as a necessity. The game’s original manufacturer is EA Sports, a well-known video game manufacturer. I trust that they would ensure that any production defects with the game would be resolved to my satisfaction. I did not consider this a risky purchase by any means, so a guarantee was not something I needed.
- Privacy Disclosure Rating: 4/4
The privacy disclosure on the GoGamer.com website was excellent. It was easily accessible in a standard, expected location (the link was in the footer of the homepage, clearly displayed) and the statement was written in plain-English. It was easy to understand, was not overly wordy (only a few paragraphs, nothing too lengthy) and was reasonable in discussing what information they collected, why it was collected, etc. I saw no significant weakness with regard to their privacy statement.
- Pre-purchase e-mail/assistance Rating: 2/4
The site had several navigation and usage issues, as I’ll address later on. In order to add a product to your shopping cart you had to first create an account. From my experience, its best to push back any actions requiring the commitment or disclosure of information of a user to as late a stage as possible in an online shopping process. That is to say, don’t make me sign up with your site before I’m really sure if I’m even willing to consider buying with you. Once I’ve decided to buy from your site, you can ask me to create an account and I’m more likely willing to do this. If I just want to see shipping costs for example, the site should allow this. The GoGamer.com site did not, thus the below average score.
- Post-purchase e-mail/confirmation Rating: 2/4
Another below average rating regarding customer service and communication. The positives here are that their automatic email confirmations came very quickly. Some sites batch their automatic email responses every 15 or 30 minutes. By contrast, within 60 seconds of placing my order I did get a confirmation.
As a huge negative, immediately after ordering (and before checking my email to see the confirmation) I found a link on their site marked “my account”. In that section I clicked on link that indicated it would provide information about my recent orders. I found the order I just placed, but it indicated as though my payment had not been received. This caused me to worry – I paid for the product. I realized their system may not update from all payment methods in real-time, but regardless I wanted to see confirmation that my payment did indeed go through and more importantly that my order would be processed and shipped without any delay. As such, I sent an email to the help addressed specified on the site. I sent this note on 4/25:
“… paid for via PayPal and then “my account” on your site shows order and payment process as “not started”… I want to make sure you received my payment and will ship the game soon!”
Today is 4/30 and I received the game a number of days ago. I’ve still not received any response at all to my email. Granted, the concern I expressed is no longer a concern – but I believe the professional thing to do is to still reply to any customer email regardless. I took the time to give them my money and write them an email, they can take the time to send a quick note reassuring me my order would be processed. The total time investment on their part would be no longer than 30 seconds, most likely.
B. Personalization Total: 12 / 16
- Overall Rating: 3/4
The site has separate sections for shoppers according to the video game system they have. Further, for existing customers there is a better-than-expected “My Account” section where you can view previous orders, track shipments, etc.
- Personal Web Page Rating: 2/4
Aside from the “My Account” section mentioned above there was no separate page to provide personal recommendations. That said, I don’t believe that is a necessary element in this case. Most people who buy video games are either like myself in that they buy only two or three games a year that are essentially the latest versions of the same game they buy every year – or they buy a lot of games and tend to be active in various online community sites that help them identify new products they might be interested in. I’m certainly the former of these types, and thus I would not be interested in any recommendations this site had. In fact, its unlikely that I’ll purposely plan to purchase again at this site or provide enough information for the site to make recommendations. This is not a fault or shortcoming of this website, but rather just a reality of the infrequency and casual shopping nature of myself with regard to this particular product type. They may have a number of loyal buyers, but they should not try and force personalization on the customer who simply wants to make a one-time purchase.
- Saves billing and shipping information Rating: 4/4
Not only does the site save billing and shipping info, but it makes it real easy to simply specify that the two addresses are the same if that’s the case. It’s a little thing, but if it means I don’t have to type the same address twice than it helps my overall satisfaction as a customer. It also reassures me that this is not a low-budget website where they may have skimped on some of the smaller features to save a buck.
- Personal favorites/registry Rating: 3/4
The site does have an “add to wishlist” capability. I did not take advantage of this nor do I foresee myself ever wanting to. It is my experience that most e-commerce sites see only a very small percentage of their customers utilize features such as a wishlist, saved shopping cart or even personal recommendations. That said, it’s a powerful tool to drive loyalty and greater lifetime value for those few customers who do use it – and thus its often a worthwhile venture to make those options available. However, its also my opinion that most customers are only willing to have a close relationship with a limited number of retailers they purchase from – typically the ones that sell products the customer is more emotionally attached to or purchases frequently. Personally, I’m extremely skeptical and hesitant for any loyalty or rewards programs with retailers. I do have a few, but I simply have no interest in forming a true relationship with every vendor I’ve ever purchased from. I think the GoGamer.com site understands this. They make the option available but do not force it.
C. Browsing and Buying Total: 8/16
- Overall Rating: 2/4
As you’ll read in the following “Navigation” section, I had several issues with the transition from being a shopper on their site to actually completing the checkout process. The site merchandising was better than average, but there were some critical navigation and site usage issues.
- Navigation Rating: 1/4
The products are indeed organized well into categories (i.e. sports games, action games, etc.) and also sorted by video game console/system (i.e. X-Box, PS2, PC, etc.). However, I do have two huge objections which are the reasons for this low score.
The first objection is concerned with the way the Account Signup and Checkout process are integrated with the site. I found the game I wanted and was ready to purchase it. I clicked the “add to cart” button and was prompted to sign up for an account. Since I was ready to purchase, I proceed with the account signup process. Upon completion, I was redirected back to the website’s homepage. At this point all I’ve done was sign up for an account – I still need to actually complete the purchase. I was expecting to be directed back to my shopping cart and then submit payment information, etc. This was not the case. In fact, being stranded back on the homepage in between the account signup and actual purchase process was especially troubling for me, as I had not been to their homepage. When I found the site, I came in directly to the page that had the product I was looking for – the Tiger Woods 06 PGA Tour video game for PS2. I didn’t have to navigate their site to find the game the first time, but now I was staring at the homepage with no clue how to find the game again (a second time) so I could now actually buy it after signing up for an account.
The second major objection came as a result of the above. Not knowing where the game would be listed, and not wanting to have to sort through a large number of other games to find it – I opted for their well-positioned site search box. I entered in “Tiger Woods 2006”. The search listed no results – it could not find the game that I had just seen minutes ago and that I was now desperately trying to purchase. To their credit, it did provide an additional alternative navigation on that screen. One of the links was for sports games, and after about 20 seconds on that page I found the game and could proceed with purchasing it. The problem with the search – as I discovered – was that I searched on “Tiger Woods 2006” when the official title of the game has “06” in it rather than “2006”. The computer logic was not intelligent enough to understand that this is essentially the same thing. Having worked with site-specific search engines before, I know that this can be resolved rather easily by simply including a number of additional terms that a specific game should show up for when searched on.
- Visual merchandising Rating: 3/4
There was a nice large photo of the game I wanted right on the first page I saw on the site, along with the appropriate description and details. The pricing information was clearly displayed. The professional display of the game and especially the photo were key reasons in my selecting this retailer over other online retailers, as their product merchandising was superior and made me feel more comfortable with the site.
- Product availability Rating: 2/4
I cannot speak for their overall inventory, but the product I wanted was in stock and came to me rather quickly. However, I still have chosen to give them a low score here due to the site-search issue I discussed in the “Navigation” section. The product was available, but they certainly did a few things to make me think it might not be. Having the product in stock and making it readily available and easy to find are both a part of “product availability” in my opinion.
D. Promotions Total: 13/16
- Overall Rating: 3/4
The general pricing on the site was better than average, and there are a few additional initiatives in the way of contests, blowout deals, etc.
- Purchase incentives Rating: 3/4
There is a “Blowout Deals” section that features games at prices as low as 99 cents. Most are older games and as such I interpret this is an inventory clearance strategy. That said, a low enough price will drive some sales for certain games and encourage shoppers to consider a game they may not be certain they want, simply because the cost is so little.
I found the overall pricing of the games fairly competitive, and feel that this in itself is a purchase incentive as well.
- Contests/sweepstakes Rating: 4/4
GoGamer.com has a Daily Winner contest when someone wins something each day – no purchase necessary. Typically the prize is a game or gaming accessory (such as a control pad). This may help encourage repeat visits which will mean top-of-mind awareness when those visitors are looking to make a purchase later on.
- Loyalty programs & CRM Rating: 3/4
The “Madness Mail” email newsletter is a classis CRM and loyalty feature. Email newsletters provide cost effective ways to make additional contacts with customers, provide them an additional value (information, awareness, special offers, etc.) and drive increased sales. The “Madness Mail” subscription promises a few tips and inside information about availability dates for soon-to-be-released games.
E. Delivery / Fulfillment Total: 19/20
18. Overall Rating: 4/4
Excellent. The product came quickly and I had notification of it to keep me informed. It was packaged adequately and all in all I had no complaints here.
19. Shipping Notification Rating: 4/4
I received notification that the order was being shipped approximately four hours after completing the purchase process. This is excellent.
20. Product Packaging and Condition Rating: 3/4
The product arrived in a FedEx box that was larger than expected and did not indicate to me that they skimped on shipping, realizing that many of their customers are instant-gratification types. However, there was very little padding so the game could move around in the box a lot during shipping. The invoice that accompanied the game was no-frills and was folded in half (and not so nicely at that).
21. Delivery Tracking Features Rating: 4/4
Once my order was shipped I was provided with a tracking number and instructions about how to track the package’s progress via FedEx.
22. Speed of Shipping & Delivery Rating: 4/4
No complaints here. I ordered the game on the afternoon of 4/25 and it was waiting for me at my front door when I got home from work on 4/27. I was impressed and pleased with this speed.
F. Security Total: 4/4
23. Overall Rating: 4/4
GoGamer.com has had a high BizRate rating since 1999, and the copyright notice says the firm has been around since 1991, which shows some staying power and validity in the minds of certain shoppers. Additionally, the site was verified by VeriSign, a recognized name with regard to online website security. Lastly, they accepted payment via PayPal, an alternative method of submitting payment that enables shoppers to pay without delivering sensitive information such as credit card information directly to the merchant. I took advantage of this as I often do when shopping via online retailers with whom I’m not familiar. Indeed, many times the acceptance of PayPal payments is a make-or-break issue for me, especially if the site’s overall feel makes me a bit uneasy.
Total Points: 68/92 = 74%
Additional comments on the online shopping experience score:
I was truly shocked about the purchase process, especially considering that this site sells relatively low-margin retail products that are price competitive and thus needs to have reasonable volume to get by. I would think they would be focused on every possible barrier preventing someone who is willing and able to buy from finishing the checkout process. My hope is that this issue – namely the one where I went to checkout, was instructed to signup for an account, did that, and then was dumped back on the homepage with an empty shopping cart and no clue how to find the product I was just trying to purchase – is simply an oversight rather than a known issue that has not been corrected.
Recommendations for improving the score:
Fix the above mentioned issues in the checkout process. Reply to customers when they take the time to email you.