Why I did not buy from Sportsshoes.com (AKA Amazon, e-commerce & uncertainty)

ASICS GEL-Kayano

ASICS GEL-Kayano

Sportsshoes.com ranks highly on Google.co.uk for the type of trainers I know I wish to buy. So I attempted to sign up with the website, so that I could purchase them. But I could not complete the transaction because of a doubt that sportsshoes.com would not dispel.

My payment stumbled on what appears to be a minor point, but I think that it does illustrate just how difficult it is to compete with Amazon, how difficult it is to create smooth e-commerce user-experience, and the important part that trust and familiarity plays in financial transactions.

Here’s why I could not complete my order with sportsshoes.com:

When adding addresses to my sportsshoes.com account, it does not indicate whether or not I should enter my name, it just states “Address”:

sportsshoes.com address form

sportsshoes.com address form

Which then raised doubts in my mind; Should my address include my name? Will my purchase reach me? If this retailer is not clear about this point, are other parts of its service trustworthy?

Part of the problem for sportsshoes.com is my familiarity with Amazon’s practices. When I edit my Amazon account, it clearly indicates that I should enter my name. Which makes sense to me, as surely my address should include my name…(?)
You see, my familiarity with buying from Amazon means that its systems are my ‘default’ for purchasing online, and when other websites do not demonstrate the same attention to detail I begin to doubt their ability to deliver. Us online shoppers are a nervous, fickle, impatient bunch. If a website has not anticipated our questions, we’ll go elsewhere – to a website that does.

Amazon address form

Amazon address form

Not wanting to give up on Sportsshoes.com, I looked at their FAQs to see whether I should enter my name – but it has no mention of such a seemingly trivial point. So then I dropped them an email, but of course it’s Saturday night and nobody has replied.

And now I’m back at Google.co.uk, and I’ve found the trainers I want for the same price at SportsShoes Unlimited’s Amazon Marketplace store. SportsShoes Unlimited own Sportsshoes.com, so at least they’ll get my custom indirectly. But they’ll be paying Amazon for the privilege, which is a pity because Amazon needs strong, independent, competitors to keep it in check.

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