Retailer Expectations

It’s no secret that I’m a die-hard Riding Warehouse devotee. If it’s possible to buy something from them, I do. They ship things super quickly (usually same day), shipping is free on orders over $50, and I generally have the items in my hands 3 days later. There’s always a coupon code floating around to use, and their customer service has always been great for me.  Teddy’s Tack Trunk is another one like this… I always have stuff on my doorstep within 2 days and the shipping charges are super reasonable. These guys are my gold standard, and they’ve proven hard to beat. That’s why I’m always quick to recommend them.

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I’ve gotten so used to them, in fact, that when I experience anything less than that level of performance from other companies, I get annoyed. What do you mean it took 5 business days just to get my order boxed up and on the truck? What do you mean I paid $10 to ship a few tiny items and y’all shipped it the SLOWEST WAY POSSIBLE, taking 8 days to get to me? What do you mean I called all 3 phone numbers listed on your website for days during business hours and never got ahold of anyone?

All recent experiences from companies that shall remain nameless, btw.

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But, are my expectations reasonable?

I kinda feel like, if you’re a company that relies heavily on online sales, you should be (or aspire to be) at RW/TTT’s level of performance. If you just have a basic website but mostly sell out of a brick and mortar or mobile, I’m more forgiving. And of course, if I buy something secondhand from another horse person, I’m way more forgiving. I know what a PITA it can be to get things boxed up, ready to ship, and to the post office while still working around your normal life commitments. That’s not your profession, after all.

So what are your expectations when purchasing things online? How long do you expect it to take for your order to ship? How long do you expect it to take for the items to get to you? And, maybe more importantly, what level of customer service do you expect?

37 thoughts on “Retailer Expectations

  1. I am working on a post about shopping and customer service, so these things you mention are great points … but I’ll be looking more at my recent experience with insurance.


  2. Unless a website specifically says it will take longer, I expect an item I purchased online to ship within 24-48 hours. Again, if they don’t specify how they ship, or don’t offer expedited shipping that I can pay more for, or they note they ship via FedEx/UPS/USPS, I expect an item on my doorstep within 5 business days. That’s from any company that has an online presence. If it’s going to take longer, just put it on the website so I don’t have unreasonable expectations.


  3. I usually expect an item within 5 business days… and usually expect shipping within 24-48 hours. I also expect *reasonable* shipping prices, if not free. I’m looking at you, Smover Smaddelry, and your $20 shipping fee for an item I’ll receive in 10 business days….


    1. If it makes you feel any better, I bought a couple blankets from Shmorseloverz (I KNOW, but they’re the only place that had the ones I wanted) and it took 5 days just to get them on the truck, with expected shipping time of 11 days. ELEVEN DAYS. What was the shipping method, FedEx Tortoise? Oh yeah, and they were $16 to ship (which I get for blankets, but maybe we could spring for a better shipping method?).


      1. I have a love/hate relationship with Horseloverz. They do have good prices, especially when they have a sale, but their shipping sucks. You would think that for such a large company they would have a better shipping department, or a better contract with shipping companies, but they don’t. FedEx Smartpost is generally their shipping method of choice, which through other retailers is the cheap or free option, through HL it is not. It is also the slowest possible method. I’d like HL better if they had better shipping times and options.


  4. If shipping is free, I’m a little more lenient. If I’m spending a fortune to ship something, it darn well better show up fast! I curse the people that came up with the idea to do final delivery thru the post office.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As a die hard Amazon prime member, I expect things quickly and free. Unfortunately other retailers don’t have those perks. I have noticed though that I can get some horse things from Amazon, like my dressage girth. I generally check on Amazon for products now prior to ordering elsewhere…just to be sure I can’t get it with free two day shipping first.


  6. Along the same lines as shipping times/costs, ability to see if items are actually available on the website is really helpful. I have ordered things from a couple different places (one big company, one smaller one) that don’t have accurate inventory numbers on the items they list online. While it’s not a huge deal, it’s still a bit frustrating at times. I expect to have items within a week of when I order them and most of the time I do. I also shop around a lot to try and buy as many things from the same place as possible. Valley vet is about 45 minutes from me and they almost always ship same day. However, they charge freight on their supplements, as well as sales tax, so depending on what I’m ordering, it may or may not be the best option. RW is great, but they don’t have everything I need unfortunately. One place I have started ordering from is State Line Tack. They regularly have 25% off sales and even with shipping, it ends up being less than ordering from just about anywhere else. Usually that’s just buying supplements, fly spray, treats, etc. They have reasonable shipping costs for bulky items and ship within 1 to 2 days of ordering. There are also several shipping options.


  7. are you talking about dover??? 😉 😉 😉

    if i spend a certain amount of money (it can be up to like $150 if they want, honestly) then i expect free shipping. don’t make me pay for shipping if I just gave you $200. and it shouldn’t take longer than a week to get to me, it’s 2016. c’mon.

    for day to day stuff honestly i go off amazon. i have prime, and its the fastest/cheapest way to get my salt blocks/fly spray, sht like that.


  8. Like others have said, I’m totally spoiled by Amazon Prime. They do have some things that I will get simply because the price is better and I’m confident in their fast (and free) shipping. But I struggle a bit because I do want to support local or independent tack shops. So I tend to shop around to find the right balance. That said, I have a hard time paying much for shipping. I would honestly rather a company add a couple bucks to the base price and tell me that shipping is free rather than add $7, or $10 or MORE to my total at the end for shipping.


  9. I’m pretty realistic about it–there are certain places I won’t order (coughsmoversmaddlrycough). There are certain places I order from conditionally–smorseloverz is actually ok if you order through ebay, strangely enough, but never, ever, ever order through their actual site. I’m having a fling with Victory Canter lately–free shipping over $50, frequent coupon codes, and seriously competitive prices. Of course, the way they make that happen is by not being the fastest at getting things in the mail. I usually wait 2-3 days for something to ship, but then they send it priority, so it’s not terrible. I used to order from smartpak once or twice a year when they had good sales, but their prices seem to go up while their selection, sales, and service go down. I have renamed them smoversmaddlery lite.

    Teddy’s Tack Trunk rocked my world. I’ve had mixed experiences with Riding Warehouse, but they’re generally alright.

    If I’m using a private seller, I expect things to get mailed within a week. I sell things too and sometimes life gets in the way. Whatever.


  10. Hahahahahaha…..I wish!

    I live in Canada. There are a couple good online stores here, but only a couple and they don’t have near the same selection as all the US giants. If I can get something in 4 weeks for $25 shipping or less I’m happy! Sad but true.

    There was once a few things I really wanted from a US retailer and couldn’t find them anywhere else. Shipping to me would have cost $204 – that is not a typo, more than two hundred dollars! I ended up using US flat rate shipping fees to mail to a place in Montana and drove 5 hours and crossed an international border just to pick up my parcel.

    This is also the only reason I do not yet own fancy brushes from Teddy’s Tank Trunk – I just can’t justify $35 in shipping for brushes. Darn you American bloggers for reviewing amazing things that I cannot get =-P


    1. The struggle is real!

      I am also from Canada and shipping from the US to CAD is terrible. I have paid $50 shipping before just so I could get the blankets I wanted. And even within Canada it is tough to have any real reliable online tack stores – I do love Greenhawk and Pleasant Ridge tho. Apple Saddlery is ok, but they have such a messy layout and I find it difficult to maneuver around.


  11. I tend to be like you — I like good communication and quick service. I’m also a lot more forgiving if I get an email saying it will be a few days. Just tell me what’s going on and what to expect, and I’ll be a lot happier!!


  12. I am totally spoiled by Amazon Prime. Completely. It is the first place I’ll look, and if an item is a dollar or two more expensive and prime eligible, I’ll still buy from Amazon because I’ll have it in two days. I usually try to meet the free shipping dollar values (especially if I’m close to it), but Dover irks me like none other because their shipping is based on how much you spend, not the item. Huge items, I totally get. Shipping that is expensive and I should pay my share, however, get with the times and offer a free shipping mark. Their products are already overpriced. I do have a local (ie 1 hour) Dover store that I’ve made use of- but I pay tolls to get there. If they don’t have something and can get it from the warehouse, they’ll ship to my house for free. If it’s coming from another store, they’ll send it to my local store and I still have to pick it up (but still faster and cheaper than ordering from them online).

    I always give places who offer free shipping the first crack at my business. I give free shipping a week to get to me, but I expect online retailers to box up items and ship them within 24-48 hours. Private sellers get more leeway, hell I have returns to make and I’m delaying because it’s annoying to go to the post office. (also, USPS shipping is the devil in disguise)

    One local (2.5 hour) tack shop has incredible blankets (and a very healthy online business), yet they make me absolutely batty on shipping. I’m so close to this shop that I used to pay the actual freight charge for physically small orders at 2-3 day shipping because it was cheaper and faster than their flat rate. They redid their shipping, and the last time I ordered from them, it took them 5 days to ship out my items, then another 3-4 days to get to me. I was really angry, 8-9 days to go 120 miles? Pissssssed. I may have been rude on the phone and told them it was unacceptable in this day and age.


  13. Ugh, this is the bane of my existence (which, I realize, is #firstworldproblems in the worst way) because, living in the boonies as I do, I have to get EVERYTHING online. The only thing I can get locally is fly spray and dewormer, at the feed store. In the day and age of Zappos and Amazon Prime, yes, I do expect speedy delivery and reasonable, if not free, shipping as well as convenient return policies. I stopped shopping with Dover years ago after they charged me $50 in shipping for an order that was close to $400, and it took a week and a half to arrive. Nope nopey nope. Sorry, but it’s 2016 and ya gotta do better than that. I AT LEAST expect free shipping over $150. Smartpak has always been good to me (I love that they offer free returns on most things, and that I can add items to my monthly supplement shipment and they’ll ship free), but their inventory isn’t huuuuge so sometimes I have to look elsewhere for specialty things. Good to know about the Teddy’s and RW!


  14. For me it depends. If I’m getting a great deal, I don’t mind waiting a little bit. Horseloverz for example. It can take AWHILE for stuff to ship and it used to really piss me off. But when instant messaging with a customer service person there one day, they pointed out to me (nicely actually!) that the lead time for each item is displayed on the item’s page. (I had never noticed this… bad shopper) So once I knew how long it would take, it no longer bothered me that I had to wait. Generally the things I get through them are priced very well, so it’s worth the wait.
    I hate when I can’t get free shipping (looking at you Dover). At some price point, that shipping fee should go away.
    Since my work involves shipping stuff all over the country, I am fully educated in how long things take and the price differences in speeding that up. So while I HATE smartpost for taking so much longer to get to me, I get it. HUGE price advantages for the shipper. If I’m in a hurry, I will pay the extra for a faster shipping method.
    I think the thing I’m most picky about is accuracy. Not that I don’t understand that things happen, but that’s just kind of my pet peeve.


  15. I agree with what others have said. I ordered tall boots from Smartpak just for the free return shipping that I did indeed end up using, twice. I recently saw that a particular new tack brand was asking for thoughts in regards to shipping and return policy on FB. They kinda poo- pooed free return shipping thinking the customer should have to pay for that. Smartpak may have spoiled me, but it’s kinda become the standard to me, especially if you are primarily an online retailer. Tall boots are not easy to fit and usually at a higher price point, so there’s quite a bit at risk. $400 boots could easily become $500 if I have to pay to ship boxes back and forth a few times. And how do I know if your cob size bridle will fit my dainty OTTB if I’ve never tried your brand before? I think that as an online store what you are saving in overhead from a brick and mortar store, probably should go towards shipping.

    Customer service is above all. I don’t care how fast and quick your processing and shipping is if I can’t stand to deal with your CS.


    1. I think, in the case of tack, if they provide measurements for their items (several brands do this), then I can understand a hesitance to offer free return shipping. Or if the company is in a different country from most of their sales. Then people are more likely to, instead of taking the time to measure right, just buy both sizes and return the one that doesn’t fit, since it’s not on their dime to do so. I also see how bigger companies can take that hit more easily than smaller ones. So I guess I see it both ways on that one. The free return shipping is definitely a perk on things like boots though, where a) it’s tricky to fit just based off of measurements alone, and b) it’s a big damn package to be shipping back and forth!


  16. We are in 2016…. I feel there is no reason that items that are on the shelf shouldn’t ship out in 24 hours.

    And when I pay for expedite shopping and they take dayyyyys to get the item actually shipped out it drives me nuts!!!


  17. We moved more in the country last year.. and now my beloved Amazon Prime that is 2 day is NEVER 2 day. I can pay for 2 day shipping from anywhere else (Eddie Bauer, Rent the Runway, whatever) and get it in 2 days.. but not Amazon. So Amazon is kinda on my shit list now, because I still pay the same price as everyone else but can’t get it in 2 days.

    First world problems… I don’t have high expectations, but I expect that whatever you say to do, it happens. If you tell me it’ll take 5 days to get here, ok. And it gets here in 7, I’ma be angry.


  18. I really only care if I need something by a specific date. If I’m just ordering something with no real need or date, I just want reasonable shipping rates. I do love a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so I have a preferred vendor for things I am unsure about. The only stores that get my thumbs down are the ones that will not correct a customer service or quality issue. One of the very big retailers was inflexible and ridiculous and I do my best to not shop from them (hard to avoid due to a monthly shipment that I like, but other than that, I purchase elsewhere)


  19. I’m usually more concerned about getting the best price on something than getting it ASAP, so I’m fairly tolerant of longer wait times. I do expect to get free shipping if I spend over a certain amount. I really hate when oversize items get charged an extra shipping fee which they don’t tell you until you get ready to check out- it should just be included in the item’s price!


  20. RidingWarehouse has pretty much ruined me. If I don’t get stuff within like 5 business days I’m pretty ticked. I think that it’s pretty unacceptable that some company’s don’t even get stuff shipped out the next business day.


  21. More lengthy shipping never bothers me for some reason. If it takes more than a couple of weeks or if things are poorly packaged that does but for the most part the length of time for the product to arrive doesn’t bother me.

    If I need something NOW for whatever reason I order it through my Amazon Prime account. It’s crazy how much horse stuff you can get on Amazon!


  22. Free shipping over $50 is fair and free returns always. I e been happy with smartpak’s customer service and speed so I usually order from ther (unless I find a great deal I can’t pass up somewhere else)


  23. I know you aren’t a fan, but smartpak has literally been amazing for me. Not once in almost ten years have i had a single issue with them and their customer service is superb. I honestly get surprised when I hear otherwise, because hand down they are my number one company, horse or otherwise when it comes to phone customer service. Rarely do I order anywhere else, but I do like RW seasonal sales. They generally don’t carry much of what I need though (size, color, actual item), regardless of if its a sale of not, so I almost always shop SP.


    1. I’ve never had a bad experience with SP too…they’re always super in the customer service department, their website is easy to use, they ship quickly, etc. The other thing I love about them is their really functional reviews section for every item. I really like seeing what other horse people have to say about something before making a purchase decision, and you can filter items for highest reviewed.


  24. I will echo Monica’s feelings about SmartPak, and also stick out my neck and admit that I’m not super impressed with RW or TTT, if I’m being honest. I find the selection at RW to be…not great, and their shipping usually takes no less than 7 days to get to me. I absolutely adore my TTT brushes, but they also took over a week to arrive. Basically, my expectations for online retailers are: have the best prices on a wide selection of stuff, have great customer service, and fast, free shipping. Some people may hate on SmartPak, but I can’t complain when I order something from SP and it’s on my doorstep literally 24 hours later using their free ground shipping. I know my opinions are in the minority regarding RW and TTT, but to each their own. I’m glad you’ve had such great service from them!

    Oh, and I won’t touch Dover with a 10-foot pole, for the record.


  25. BE IN STOCK! Reasonable minimum orders for free shipping, good customer service, fast shipping, straight forward sales without gimmicks. You guys at Riding Warehouse have it down!


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