Over the past few couple of weeks I’ve been buying items to prepare me for my Ultra marathon training however in the last week it only occurred to me that maybe I should probably buy something with which to carry life or death essentials, just in case I run into trouble along the way. I hate hate hate running with a rucksack on my back however I was sure that with the wonders of modern technology, someone would have devised an ultra light pack for the long long distance runner. So, I went to the Ultra Marathon running store and found exactly what I was looking for… for £129.
It was a little bit out of my price range so I went to Amazon to search for it there, only to discover it was more expensive. Frustrated I decided to search on Amazon for running backpacks and I found the perfect item – for about £35. It ticked all the boxes; lightweight, liquid pouch, iPod holder, so I clicked ‘buy’.
Prior to finalising the order I realised I was about to be stiffed for an extra fiver on delivery as the bag was being sold by Millets rather than Amazon. ‘Hmmm’, I thought, ‘I wonder if there’s a Millets near by that I could buy this in?’. Hell, even if it’s a couple of quid more than the online price, I’d rather pay it to get it right now that pay a fiver extra to get it in a week.
A quick Google of ‘Millets Holborn’ confirmed that there was a store five minutes walk from the office. So, lunch time on Wednesday I took a wander down High Holborn to their shop underneath Westgate House. Only to discover that there was no Millets there. There was a Blacks (we’re coming to this ok) but no Millets. So I walked down a bit further without success. Frustrated I walked back to the Blacks and decided to have a look to see if they had the bag anyway. No dice!
Thinking that I must have made a mistake, I headed back to the office and Googled Millets again however I was proved right – the store in question listed on the website as a Millets was the Blacks. Out of curiosity I had a look at the Blacks website, which, bar a logo change aside, is the same website! Only with slightly different products. But the same store locator system. Now, I’m sure there are very good brand reasons why they have decided not to align the Millets and Blacks brands but they should be aligned if they are going to claim that Millets stores are Blacks and vice versa.
Feeling really frustrated by my whole experience, I decided to search for the bag on both the Millets and Blacks site. Guess what? It wasn’t there! Fed up by the whole process, I just bit the bullet and paid a fiver more for the bag in Cotswolds.
So what should they do?
They could have started by having a bit of transparency between the brands. They are in effect the same market, and whilst I appreciate that both stores may have a particularly loyal customer base, making it clear that the product line was similar and that a store listed on the Millets website as a Millets was in fact a Blacks, would have caused a lot less frustration.
There should be a greater synergy between their online site and their Amazon marketplace site. You have to be prepared for a customer finding your product in a multitude of places, however where they find it may not necessarily be the most convenient place for them to buy it. Offer purchasing options.
Their mobile site is crap. They should invest in a better mobile site, with improved store locator and possibly even click and collect. I wouldn’t be surprised if the market for Millets/Blacks consisted of a lot of emergency purchases. Check online and reserve instore. It’s worked wonders for Argos.