How Shiseido Ruined a Mother’s Day Surprise

Recently I decided to get some skin care products for my mom for Mother’s Day. One of the best known brands out there is Shiseido. So I decided to go to their website, order a gift set, and have it sent to my mom for Mother’s Day. Through this process, I found their purchase experience lacking and was extremely disappointed in what happened during the post-purchase experience. 

As I was going through the purchase flow, two things captured my attention. The first was that Shiseido asks the user for an email address both during the shipping step and the billing step of the checkout flow. The standard checkout flow has a shipping section and a billing section, and the standard thing to do is to ask for the user’s email address during the billing section. The main use case where this matters is in the case of gifts. As the retailer, Shiseido should want to communicate with the purchaser of the items — not who the items are being sent to. 

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The second aspect of the purchase flow that captured my attention is what happens on completing the checkout flow. Or more precisely said, what surprised me was what didn’t happen. After completing the purchase, I was shown a standard checkout confirmation (aka “thank you”) page. 

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What I expected, in addition to seeing this page, was to receive an order confirmation email. Unfortunately, there was none. This is somewhat alluded to in the verbiage on the confirmation page “you will receive a shipping confirmation email…” which is somewhat reassuring. But the standard thing to do in this case is to send the user an order confirmation email to serve as a receipt for the purchase. If I close this page, and have a question about my order, what will I reference? 

The next part of this non-optimal experience with Shiseido.com occurred the day after I placed my order. I received an email from mom which was a forward of an email that Shiseido had sent her:

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Essentially, there was something wrong with the order, and I needed to contact Shiseido to make it right. Upon calling their customer service number, I was asked to verify everything with the order: my billing address, the shipping address, and my credit card information (including expiration code, and CCV code). If not for the fact that it would be highly improbable for a fraudster to know that I had sent my mother a gift from Shiseido.com, the whole thing almost seemed like a phishing scam. I asked the customer service representative why I was being asked to verify everything all over again, and she said it’s because the shipping address and billing address did not match and that I had chosen the expedited shipping option. That being said, here’s what I think Shiseido did wrong, and should improve if they want to improve their business: 

1. It’s 2014, haven’t they heard of gifts? Of course the shipping address and billing address can differ. This is not a novel thing. In fact, in their purchase flow, I had the option to indicate that this was a gift.
2. As is the case with many gifts, many users will choose the expedited shipping option — again, this is not something new. 
3. Most importantly, if there is a problem with the billing information that needs to be reverified because a fraud alert has been triggered, the billing email address on file should be contacted — not the email address associated with the shipping address, as this inevitably will ruin many surprises. 

1 thought on “How Shiseido Ruined a Mother’s Day Surprise

  1. Pingback: How Shiseido Ended Up Surprising My Mom (and me) After All | Azad Zahoory

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