Krystallina wonders what would be your ideal anime online store, but not without sharing her ideal store first in this week's Please Save My Money.
There are a lot of great places that sell anime, manga, and other related merchandise. And I’m sure some of you are shouting through your screens, “SO-AND-SO IS THE BEST!! WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT?!?!” But even my favorite stores have policies or websites that frustrate me. So here are some of the features from various online retailers that I would love to see all used in my ideal online anime store. Or ideal any store really…
And yes, I know it’s unlikely that my perfect store will come to be, but a girl can dream, can’t she?
Everyday low prices and discounts – Right Stuf/Robert’s Anime Corner Store
Duh. Who do you think I am?! I really am finding that places like Amazon are defaulting to list price on products, or offering wildly varying prices for related items. Some manga volumes can go 50, 60% off while others in the same series will never go below MSRP. At the very least, something like 10% off MSRP every day would be nice with plenty of promotions.
Low free shipping threshold – Amazon/Barnes & Noble
It’s hard to believe that just about a year ago, non-Prime members had to spend $49 to get free shipping. Now it’s one of the few stores that requires only $25 in order to get free shipping. I know shipping costs keep rising, but who doesn’t love a low free shipping threshold? Even $35 like Walmart and Target is still reasonable.
Simple, detailed item descriptions – Right Stuf/Target
In particular, I hate how Barnes & Noble now has these HUGE recommendation section before you can even read about what you’re looking at. Plus, details like the release date are hidden and require an extra click. Right Stuf is not the fanciest looking site, but it’s effective: basic facts on the side, summary right below the image and price, and reviews and recommendations below. Target is also straightforward and includes information like the ISBN and author’s name at a glance.
Wide, easy-to-sort selection – Right Stuf
I can’t blame most of the major mass market stores for not knowing much about how to classify manga and anime. Plus a lot of products could be categorized in two or more sections. I mean, someone who doesn’t know what anime is may be looking under the TV category for Attack on Titan. Specialty stores like Right Stuf tend to have useful filters to help narrow down results in case I’m looking for a rare, highly detailed figure or just a budget edition Blu-ray.
Customer hold – Miniature Market
Ever spot a good price on something, but because there’s only one or two things you really want, you end up passing and not ordering at all? Well, this game specialty store allows you to pay now and receive later. Then, when you’re ready (probably when you have enough to earn free shipping), you can request for everything to be sent all at once.
Subscriptions – Midtown Comics
Wouldn’t it be nice to just say, “Hey, send me all volumes of this series!”? Instead of having to wait for a store to list the next volume of a series and then perhaps waiting for a good deal, you just have your card on file, set up how often the place ships out, and automatically get the latest volumes.
Searchable orders – Amazon
While Amazon and RightStuf have the ability to see if you purchased a product by clicking on a product page, Amazon goes a step further and makes it easy to search through your entire order history. Just a nice quick way so if you searched “Naruto” or whatever, you could see ALL the Naruto merchandise you’ve purchased over the year.
Post-order price adjustment – Costco
Some argue that if you were willing to buy something at one price, you shouldn’t complain when others can get it for less. Costco’s policy is very consumer-friendly with 30 days to get the price difference back (one or two weeks is standard elsewhere), but at the very least you should get the lower price before it even arrives!
Change method of payment – Amazon
Again, a seemingly simple thing that more stores need to copycat. Recently, I found out the credit card I used to preorder a bunch of things on sale at Target was used by a scammer to pay for, among other things, a $200 phone bill and $800 amusement park tickets. Unfortunately, Target does not allow you to change your method of payment, and so there was nothing I could do about all my orders. I was very upset, but I can’t even imagine the frustration if I had preordered something rare or hard-to-find like a SNES Classic or specialty figure. On Amazon, I could easily log in and use a different method of payment without losing my order or having to call customer service.
Consistent, convenient sale start/stop times – PlayStation Network
This is a two-fold request that goes hand-in-hand. Most stores operate on a weekly schedule, but their sale start/stop times tend to be late at night or early in the morning. Midnight isn’t too late for a Californian to stay up to try to nab the deal of the day from Amazon, but it’s very early morning for someone in New York. Likewise, a person often has the opportunity to sit down and shop at midnight, but a lot of people still have things to do at 9pm. There will never be a perfect time for everyone across the U.S. — let alone across the globe — but a time when most people are awake would be nice. It gives everyone a fairer shake.
I also don’t like the rise of short-term flash sales. At least PSN’s flash sales last an entire weekend, so if your Internet crashed for a day, you still have at least one to two more days to get in on the deal.
Chat option – Walmart/Target
Most of the major retailers have this feature, but the stores that don’t are really, really annoying. For some reason or another, it is often difficult for me to understand what customer service is saying or vice versa. Please, it’s much nicer NOT having to listen to blasted elevator music or the same advertisements over and over. (I’m looking at you, GameStop.) I just log on and wait for a notification on my computer that the agent has typed a new message. Much better. Lowe’s has even gone a step further and started offering a text message option.
Good customer support – Target/Walmart
Target and Walmart pay for return shipping regardless of the reason for return. I doubt a small business could operate on this kind of policy, but there should be some common sense standards and friendly agents when something goes wrong. Return shipping should be covered if the item arrived damaged. If an item is included free with purchase, then there should be some sort of compensation if it’s the wrong item. The customer isn’t always right, but neither is the company’s strict policies and workers.