advertisement
advertisement
advertisement

Sears’s Dueling Inventories Handicap Customers And Kneecap Associates

Written by Frank Hayes
June 15th, 2011

Poor Sears. On June 9, The Consumerist shared the story of a customer who went to a Sears store to exchange a faulty dehumidifier and was told the store was back-ordered on that model and couldn’t swap the lemon for another one. The customer got his refund, went home, ordered the same model for in-store pickup, got his E-mail confirmation, returned to the store and collected the dehumidifier. The customer’s conclusion: “And that’s why I try to avoid Sears.”

It’s easy to knock Sears, with its long history of making customers unhappy with out-of-stock items, whether they were actually out of stock or not. (In a comment to The Consumerist post, a Sears representative blamed the associate for being unable to find the item in stock, then lied to cover his incompetence.) On the other hand, maybe the problem isn’t as human-centric as that. It could be that Sears’ dueling inventory systems are to blame.

What actually happened at the store, according to the customer, is that the associate first checked the inventory system, which showed there was one dehumidifier left in stock. Then the associate disappeared into the back and returned to announce that there were none in stock, telling the customer that was no surprise: “I just sold 2 of that same model today.”

Then, after the customer asked whether more dehumidifiers would be in within a few days, the associate reportedly checked the computer again and announced, “Oh, no—it’s back-ordered!” If that was a lie, it wasn’t just elaborate—it was pointless. Why would an associate make up a back-ordered status for an item if it was actually going to show up at the store in a day or two?

What’s at least as likely is that two different inventory systems came into play here—one for stores, the other for online. In-store inventory is easy to reconcile in real time: An associate can walk to the back, check the stockroom and, if necessary, flag that an item is out of stock. And that works fine (except for the unhappy customer who can’t make the purchase)—but only until online inventory and same-day in-store pickup gets involved.

For example, if the Web site says there are five dehumidifiers at a particular store, and that number can’t be updated in real time, then the store has to hold out five dehumidifiers against the possibility that five people will buy online and want to pick up the product at that store right away.

Sears is reportedly in the process of merging its inventory systems so that everything shows up in one inventory (it’s supposed to be the online inventory). Apparently that hasn’t quite happened yet, which would explain why a dehumidifier showed up in a store’s inventory but could only be sold to a customer online.

A mess? Sure, and it’s one that’s almost impossible to explain to the customer.


advertisement

Comments are closed.

Newsletters

StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!
advertisement

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

StorefrontBacktalk
Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.