It’s 2014, Please Modernize Your Web Stores

| February 27, 2014 | 12 Comments

I buy a TON of stuff online. Since 2007 I’ve purchased almost every firearms via the Internet, as well as the vast majority of my firearms accessories. I also buy a shit-ton of stuff from big e-tailers like Amazon, NewEgg, and so on.

The firearms industry is such a mixed bag when it comes to technology. You have great companies like AIM Surplus and SGAmmo.com that have real-time or close to real-time inventory, know how to use social media and email marketing, and have great order fulfillment. I’m also a big fan of Midway USA’s strategy of constantly updating me as my order makes their way through their process, even though I dislike their “small item” handling charge. I also dig Brownells, their mobile site is upper echelon, firearms e-tailer or otherwise.

Sites don’t have to be high tech to get the customer service part right, either. Gabe Suarez’s gear company One Source Tactical is incredibly fast when processing and shipping orders. If you ever have a question or concern they are quick to reply.

So anyway, on the other end of the spectrum you have companies that don’t keep their Web site updated, or have different pricing on eBay vs their “real” site, or don’t respond to inquiries, or take forever to fulfill an order. I am never going to buy another non-firearm item from Palmetto State Arms after I waited almost 20 days for “in stock” stripped uppers to arrive.

The one thing I hate the most out of these no-tech, poor customer service companies are when site sell things as if they are in-stock, but the items aren’t in stock at all.

Sportsman’s Guide is a frequent offender. I purchased 5000 rounds of .22LR from them last week, and then I immediately got an order confirmation email, followed by another email stating the ammo wouldn’t arrive until May. WTF? Is it in stock or not?

The ultimate cardinal sin is when a company doesn’t even tell you things are back ordered.

8-cmmg-300-blackout-barrel-

Today my friends, I present CMMG, who (even now) lists their 8″ 300 Blackout barrel as in stock, but I found out through a reader that these barrels are on back order.

I ordered their barrel on February 20th, 2014. I never got an email confirming my order. Luckily I made an account on their Web site, and I went back to check to see if my order was even accepted.

Sure enough, my order was in “processing.”

I clicked around some more and found a “copy” of the confirmation message I saw on their Web site after I ordered. There was nothing about the barrel being back ordered, or had a lead time, etc.

Some of my friends and readers are building 300 Blackout projects, and I sent them to CMMG because they were one of the few recognizable manufacturers that (appeared) to have barrels in stock.

None of them had gotten confirmation emails either, and all of their orders were stuck in processing, too.

One of my readers emailed them on February 26, and received this reply today (February 27):

The 8.0 barrels are on back order and the next run is expected completion in the middle of March.

Thanks,

Joe

Maybe they oversold? I went to CMMG’s Web site, and they are still taking orders for their 8″ 300 Blackout barrel.

cmmg-in-stock-not-in-stock-backordered-300-blackout-barrel

 

There is nothing on the Web page, nor the order confirmation screen, nor in the customer account / order review page that indicates this barrel is not in stock and is on back order.

In the meantime, I advised several people to buy this barrel, and we all missed opportunities to buy from companies that really had barrels in stock, such as MAS Defense. In the time that it took us to figure out that CMMG’s Web store was full of shit, MAS and other companies sold out of their barrels.

Now many of us have a bunch of parts and are waiting for a barrel that was supposed to be in stock, but wasn’t.

CMMG, I’m never buying from you directly again.

It’s 2014. Please modernize your damn Web site.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.
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12 Comments on "It’s 2014, Please Modernize Your Web Stores"

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  1. John says:

    Could not agree more! I have dealt with dozens and dozens of internet vendors or mfrs with websites that allow you to order and have had the same experiences, some awesome, some just as bad a the Gov Healthcare website… Learn to shop from those that do a good job and avoid those that don’t in the future!

  2. John says:

    This is the very reason I won’t shop at swfa.com any more. The first time I ordered something from them all went well. The 2nd and 3rd times the item I wanted to purchase was listed as “in stock,” so I ordered. Both times I received email stating that the item was back ordered. Both times I cancelled the order. The last time I called up and told them I wouldn’t order from them again until they got at least “near time” if not “real time” inventory working on their site. This can’t be that hard…

  3. Joe says:

    With today’s technology it is easier to shop from home but grow-up, you are still only a phone call away. Calling to check the status is a simple cure to your blogging belly aches.
    Have a good day and put some pants on!

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Call them? You’re right. I will call to check availability as soon as I am done thumbing through their big ass paper catalog and mailing in my order.

      Wait. On second thought, you’re totally wrong. An asynchronous, always available storefront must have current and accurate stock status.

      I am not sure where you work, but I am unable to call merchants during normal business hours to check stock status.

      Why do you think it’s okay to put the burden of buying something on the consumer?

      [edit] Turns out the Joe works for CMMG.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Also, is your statement your own or on behalf of CMMG?

  4. Seriously Joe? The whole point of e-commerce is convenience. If an item is out of stock, I’ll just order it from somewhere else. If it’s backordered, I will usually either wait or cancel the order – but I don’t appreciate a company saying an item is in stock when it’s not.

    I think CMMG makes great quality products – in fact, all of my AR15s have CMMG parts in them. But you’ve got to realize that the AR15 market is loaded with vendors looking to sell parts. You’ve got to stay competitive – and part of that is keeping your online stock up to date.

    • Joe says:

      You relied during business hours, so much for that thought. It is not just CMMG, it could be Wally World, or any other catalog company. They have limited and the thing called “Supply and Demand”. It is part of life, things run out. Life is not Burger King, you can’t have it your way. My whole premise for writing is; with the computer age, we complain about everything that slows us down from the rat race. I grew up before computers and had to wait 8 to 10 weeks for delivery of simple everyday products. You’re crying over weapon parts that could take or save a life. Be patient, the companies you are critizing are producing products that could save or take a life, maybe yours.
      I do realize the status of orders would be nice to know but the consumer/shopper of the products needs to take some responsibility. How many time do you go to the local store and they are out of your item? Do you make a scene? No, you go home and use social media to blog your whoa’s about life. Take a chill pill and relax or google other companies and order from the one who can get the product to you the fastest. It will probably come from China but you will have what you want and get what you pay for.

      • Josh says:

        Joe, I understand back orders and that sort of thing but this is a bit different.
        I also ordered one of these barrels direct from CMMG. After 7 days of no updates on my order I decided to call. CMMG told me that their website does not have live inventory (no shit?) and that it allows back-orders on ALL items. Which is fine EXCEPT for the fact that their web site fails to mention that little fact. Also, they had ZERO intention of actually telling me that there was approximately a 4 week wait for the item I ordered.
        I would have happily waited for the item if I knew upfront that it was back-ordered, or if CMMG had even had the courtesy to email me within a few days to tell me the item was back-ordered. They DID NOT. I find that type of “customer service” completely unacceptable. I cancelled my order and have subsequently ordered a better barrel from another manufacturer, for nearly the same price. So, I guess I should thank CMMG for their shitty service. I’ll be sure to do so by spending my money elsewhere in the future.

      • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

        Joe, if you can’t understand the difference between talking to someone about a gun part on the phone at work versus tapping some keys on a keyboard then I think you’re not ever going to get the point.

        • steve says:

          KNOWINGLY selling a product you don’t have in stock is fucking pathetic in todays ecommerce world. I don’t give a fuck how old and rinkley your balls are, or how slow life was back in the goddamn day. This isn’t the fucking 60s anymore. This is 2015, and you’re far far behind the times.

          FYI, I post this after cancelling my CMMG order for the exact reason Mr. Short Barreled Shepherd did. OH, and I’ll also never be purchasing from CMMG ever again.

          2015 folks, theyre still pulling this bullshit. IF you can’t fucking ship orders to people don’t even offer. Distribute to dealers and fuck off with youre bullshit.

          BAD FUCKING BUSINESS.

  5. bond says:

    I ordered months ago and they never told me it was a back-order the entire time. I did notice today that they have added the word “back-order” to the status page, but the status still shows as processing. The ordering page STILL shows as in-stock and has no back-order notice!

    JOE, CMMG’s ordering system is garbage and can be done better through a simple and free open source eCommerce system with very little investment (I do them for a living). The customers that they (you?) stand to lose by coming onto this blog defending lazy practices, poor customer relations and an out-of-date website back-end will most likely cost much more than a simple eCommerce update.

    There are many ways that these back-orders can be handled, some as easy as just putting a notice on the website which is still non-existent.

  6. bond says:

    Also, there account page has a link to cancel your order. When you click this link it goes to the order status with NO place to cancel. Again, great system.

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