Lakeside Collection.com; A Mixed Bag
Written: Nov 8, 2003
According to the Lakeside Collection slogan: good things in life dont have to cost a fortune. To that sentiment, I would like to add my own maxim: products ordered on websites should be consistently available and arrive faster than the speed of cold molasses.
To say that lakesidecollection.com is a lovely website displaying attractive, inexpensive giftware, apparel, and home décor items is a completely accurate description of their marketplace. To say that their inventory control and delivery process could stand major improvement is an understatement. More on that later.
On the plus side of the equation, the Lakeside Collection website and catalog are chock-full of brand name collectible merchandise with such recognizable names as Cherished Teddies (Teacup Bears - $7.95), Precious Moments® (Carousel - $7.95), Berta Hummel (Figurines - $14.95) and NASCAR® (Collectible Ornaments - $4.95).
For the youngsters on your shopping list, you will find an abundance of licensed character products, such as: Scooby-Doo Soft-Sided Overnight Bag ($5.95), SpongeBob SquarePants ceramic bank ($6.95), Splash Around Dora the Explorer® Bath Toy set ($7.95), Soothing Star Pooh® ($10.95), and a Spider-Man 2-piece pajama set ($13.95). In addition to youth and collectible offerings, youll find a nice assortment of ladies loungewear, tee-shirts, candles, centerpieces, kitchenware, and porcelain dolls.
Since my wife always seems to be on the lookout for fanciful holiday ornaments, when we received the Lakeside Collection holiday catalog, she browsed it immediately. As always, we prefer to make catalog orders online whenever possible, so a visit to the website was the next step. The layout of the Lakeside Collection website is colorful, easy to navigate, and simple to browse and search. Each lakesidecollection.com.com are beyond competitive. Truly, they are some of the best Ive seen for similar merchandise of similar quality sold elsewhere. You could do quite a bit a gift-shopping at this site for those stocking stuffer and Secret Santa gifts that we always seem to need in December.
To get an early jump on the holidays, we placed a Christmas in July order on July 15th, for two Holiday Ornament Sets, both at a beyond-reasonable $4.95 per set. The set of six clay ornaments from artist Helena Cook were my wifes favorite because of the detail and winsome design. The 4-piece pastel snowman ornament set was an equally appealing purchase.
On the negative side of this website equation are the checkout process, shipping service, and delivery time, which is a huge part of customer satisfaction. For example, placing the orders in the shopping bag provided a price total, but no indication of whether or not the products were in stock, back-ordered, or would require additional shipping time. In addition, if you spend too much time inactive at the site, your shopping bag will time-out, and youll have to start over again. I left my computer idle for about 45 minutes, returned to proceed to checkout, and found that I had to begin again. Furthermore, at the checkout screen, you are required to log in and complete the entire purchaser and payment information form before you are given the grand total of your order. In my case, I ascertained that my $9.90 purchase was going to cost me $5.95 to ship. And because I am an Illinois resident, I was also hit with the obligatory sales tax. Still, I was willing to pay the piper for the items because they really did put a smile on my wifes face.
Well my wife had to wait a considerable amount of time for that smile. Although the rest of the checkout process went smoothly, I noticed that the posted delivery time was 7 to 14 business days for items to ship from their warehouse. As I stated, we are Illinois residents, and I figured Id get the shipment much sooner. Not so. After the 14 business days had elapsed with no delivery and no word of a possible delay, I checked the status of my order through the website. The status of the order was improbably labeled as in process. What does that mean? In process of what? Being put in a box? Being delivered to my home? Being ignored by the shipper?
I called customer service and was advised by a friendly representative that the items I ordered were not only not shipped, but they were also not even in stock. She had no clear idea as to when they would be (or if they ever had been) in stock, but she counseled patience as she was certain it would only be a matter of time.
True to her word, at least two weeks after I placed the order, one of the sets finally shipped out and reached me over a week later. The remainder of the order followed the first within a few days. The items we purchased are definitely a good bargain, and we were quite satisfied with the products. However, because of the frustration with the availability, shipping and communications operations, we are not at all certain that we will be repeat customers. I would advise caution if you decide to make a purchase at lakesidecollection.com. Dont assume the product you want is in stock simply because the website allows you to put it in the shopping bag. Order well in advance of your desired delivery date, and dont rely on the posted delivery schedule as being carved in stone. In addition, be aware that customers do not have the option to choose the parcel carrier (i.e., UPS, FedEx, US Postal Service), and that the order tracking feature provides virtually meaningless status updates, with no helpful information about back-ordered items.
With the forgoing in mind, Lakeside Collection is a mixed bag at this point in time. If they are ever able to balance the operations side of the equation with the merchandise and pricing side, they will have a winner.