Customers of prepaid hamper and gift card service Hamper King continue to vent their spleens on social media this morning after delays in the delivery of Visa shopping and gift cards have prevented many from starting their Christmas shopping.
The company said in a statement it was “disappointed” that prepaid gift and credit cards, which customers have contributed funds to throughout the year, had not been delivered on time last Friday as promised.
While concerns had been raised by customers that they had not received their items as expected, Hamper King said the “vast majority of Hamper King deliveries — ranging from food hampers and toys to electronic goods and jewellery — arrived as scheduled in November”, and it was just the gift cards that were affected.
“I recognise that in the busy lead-up to Christmas this is not ideal and I apologise to our valued Hamper King customers for the inconvenience,” the company’s general manager David White said in a statement provided to SmartCompany.
The company believes customers have been receiving cards over the past 24 hours, with an expectation deliveries will be complete by Friday.
However, assurances that cards are currently being posted out have not been well received by many shoppers, who did not buy the company’s explanation that it did not anticipate the “sheer volume of orders” needed to be sent this time of year.
“Hamper King can get stuffed. I mean seriously, how can you ‘underestimate’ the demand?” one customer asked on Facebook.
However, this is not the first time in recent weeks that ‘Christmas club’ style deliveries failed to hit the mark for customers. At the end of November, Myer customers were left stressed and confused after promised vouchers did not show up in time for the department store’s first Christmas sales of the year.
Professor of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour at Deakin University, Paul Harrison, says cases like this reveal the “amateur” way he believes many businesses are dealing with data related to customer demand — a dangerous game in a digitally-focused retail world.
“It’s incredibly amateur, and I find those responses [about not anticipating demand] are incredibly problematic. Customers are paying a large amount of money for professional services, and there are so many ways of modelling customer demand. The way most companies do this is pretty rudimentary,” Harrison tells SmartCompany.
Hamper King have assured customers their orders are on the way and the company is working hard with Australia Post to ensure speedy delivery.
For many shoppers, however, the sheer stress could stop them from buying into the scheme again.
“I really hope next year you get your shit together,” another shopper wrote on Facebook.
Customer trust and vulnerability
Harrison observes that as businesses become more at ease with taking customer’s orders online, the one thing many fail to do is appreciate the vulnerability of their customers.
“One of the mistakes lots of companies make is that these online companies don’t realise how much of a significant risk that customers are taking when ordering,” he says.
There can be a significant emotional response when deliveries don’t go to plan, especially when there is a hard time limit on when a customer needs their goods by, like Christmas Day, Harrison says.
“Although it might kind of seem fairly basic that people aren’t receiving these gifts, especially if they might receive them at the end of this week anyway, it will have a significant effect. At a basic level, people will have lost their trust.”
This kind of fallout can mean customers simply won’t buy from you again, Harrison says, which is a sentiment echoed by Marketing Angels director Michelle Gamble.
Discussing the delays of the Myer Christmas Club earlier this year, she observed that delays in delivery will likely have a direct impact on future sales of a product.
“The sort of people who go into these programs are planners. They plan their expenditure all year…The biggest issue that Myer might have here is that they will lose people for next year’s [program].”