How Shiseido Ended Up Surprising My Mom (and me) After All

Last week, I wrote about getting a gift for my mom for Mother’s Day from I wrote about a couple of ideas I had for improving their purchase and post-purchase flow. My main complaint with their post-purchase flow was that they contacted my mom (the person who the order was being shipped to), instead of me (the person who the order was being billed to) when they had some questions with the order before processing the order. By contacting my mom through email before she received the package, they essentially ruined the surprise Mother’s Day gift. To say the least, I wasn’t too pleased. 

A couple of days ago, something happened that turned this somewhat negative user experience into a very positive one. I received a package in the mail that contained a Shiseido product, Eudermine Revitalizing Essence, and a letter from Shiseido corporate communications addressed to me:


To summarize, the letter acknowledged the negative user experience and mentioned that they sent the same complimentary product to my mom as well. Just to double check, I called up my mom and she had indeed received a second package from Shiseido with this product a couple of days after my original gift arrived in the mail. Like me, she had no idea that Shiseido was sending this product to the both of us to make up for the original experience with had — and she was very pleasantly surprised that her son was getting her yet another Mother’s Day gift. This amused me very much because, in the end, Shiseido did help me deliver a Mother’s Day surprise after all! Not to be one to take all the credit, I did tell my mom this was a gift from Shiseido to her (and not from me), but of course, she was still very happy to be getting another one of her favorite Shiseido products. 


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. 


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. 


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 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:


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, 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.