I've been an advocate of buying goods online for quite some time now but have been astounded at the level of service received recently that leads me to believe that buying online is slowly removing the benefits of buying in a store.
A little background: My camera broke (again) the other day. I've returned this model to Amazon before and wasn't aware that if the item has a problem again, they don't replace it, they just refund the cost. An interesting policy -especially as my problems were not related, but a nice surprise.
As I packaged up my old camera to return (a very painless process I might add) I got looking around for a replacement. Checking out the online reviews, I found my 3 favourites to pottered off to Jessops to check them out. The lady at Jessops was very helpful, pretty much confirming everything I had read online. So it came to deal time, I don't mind paying a little extra in store to get the item the same day and to do a little bartering.
Today was not to be my day though, it turns out the only one left in stock was the show model, normally a good way of getting some extra money off but not this time, it wasn't for sale. Bare in mind this was Saturday, the fastest they could get me the model I want (a mainstream camera not overly in demand) was Wednesday! So off I went home and bought it online on the Sunday. It arrived Tuesday at 9:15! What an exceptional service (thanks UK Digital Cameras).
Then, on Monday evening (around 2100) I ordered my new number plates from Demon Plates expecting them to take a few days to be made and posted (so they should have arrived today) but instead, they arrived on Wednesday! Amazing.
Don't get me wrong, I think stores have a place, its's still nice to pop into a shop and pick up the items you're interested in. There's definitely still something in feeling the item before you buy but service wise online stores are really starting to take over.
All I can say is keep it up guys, you're doing the industry a great service! I hope our ecommerce website owners are as efficient.