I’ve had a pretty good experience with Souq in the past, and so decided to try out Whizz.
I always prefer to shop online. It saves me having to interact with annoying salespeople. It’s not like salespeople are of any use too. They usually barely have any idea on anything they are trying to sell. Plus, I can usually get things online cheaper. However, online purchasing is not quite as easy when buying larger items. Shipping things like furniture from the US is particularly difficult.
So when I found Whizz, an e-commerce website that sold furniture at really great prices, I was quick to jump on deals present. I ordered a few pieces of furniture I wanted and waited patiently for the order to be processed. A few days later, I received an email saying that the order was cancelled, because the items were out of stock.
“No problem!”, I thought. I’ll just go for the second-cheapest item instead. The following day, they cancelled my order again. That item was also out of stock. Are you seeing the trend here? I normally give a website one chance, but tried to give Whizz two. They failed on both counts. I have no intent to ever go back to them and have requested them to delete my account.
As a minor side note: I give credit where it is due. Their customer service representative got back to me within a few hours of me placing my request in, and this was after business hours. They appear to have some great customer service.
Upon contacting them to request for an account deletion, they provided me with this canned response, justifying their business model:
Our website lists items by global suppliers who are in control of their own inventory and prices, which may or may not be updated and is beyond our control.
The inventory on our website is linked to thousands of suppliers and the availability is based on the suppliers updates.
Unfortunately sometimes the item is unavailable by the time the item is processed and or the uploaded inventory is incorrect – although its rare it can happen.
You are welcome to send us a link for the items you like before placing your order to check for availability.
Just given this, let’s talk a little bit about the different e-commerce models available. Perhaps if they end up reading this post, they might learn a thing or two about how to run a business. In general, there are two different types of e-commerce models available:
- Inventory: This is the standard model that most online stores use. They have a big warehouse where they store their entire inventory. Note that this inventory can be provided by other suppliers. When you, as a customer, order from the online store, you interact directly with the e-commerce website. Here, the markup is a little higher, because you need space to store your inventory. However, the company is responsible for keeping track of their inventory. What they advertise as “in stock” on their website is available. Most retail outlets fit this perfectly.
- Marketplace: In this model, you interact with the supplier of the product directly. The e-commerce website merely acts as a middle-man to get you (the customer) in contact with the supplier and handle the order. The markup for such purchases is much lower because no storage exists on behalf of the e-commerce website. All purchase orders go directly to the supplier. Here, it is very possible that the item you ordered is not in stock, because the e-commerce company does not keep track of available inventory. AliBaba is a great example of this model.
What Whizz are trying to do is dip their hands in both buckets. They do not want to keep an inventory, which means they do not have a warehouse. This cuts down on their overhead. However, they also do not want to put you in touch with the supplier, which can reduce the overall cost of your purchase. When you place an order on their website, they go and contact the supplier to see if it is in stock. This should be their responsibility from the get-go. They should have a team of people to check that whatever is advertised as “in stock” on the website is actually in stock.
It just goes to show you the extents that people will go to in order to steal money from you. Their plan is simple: display items for dirt-cheap prices. Then, as they get orders, keep cancelling the orders until customers are left with no choice but to order the more expensive items.
What Whizz does is not magic, either. They essentially use a parcel forwarding service like MyUS (a service that I use myself) to ship items from the US to their central hub, which they then ship to you. So why did I want to use their service? For me, it was simply a matter of convenience. They offered a good price, with a fair markup. It was worth paying them for their time to handle the purchase on my behalf. I (thought) that they offered a good business model and wanted to support them. Apparently I was wrong.
As I mentioned earlier, I have requested them to remove my account from their website. I have no intention of ever using their service again. Whenever companies resort to shady tactics to milk money out of customers, I boycott them on pure principle. For example, I have permanently boycotted Patreon and have no issues boycotting Whizz as well.
It’s a bit of a shame, though. They really do have a great and a fairly-priced business model. Or so I thought. I think something like this would be a really good business idea. So, if any entrepreneurs want to try and make a competitor to Whizz, go for it. Make sure your business plays fair and I’ll be more than happy to support it.
So, do you have any experiences with Whizz? How about other e-commerce websites? What are your thoughts? Or do you prefer to shop at the physical stores themselves? Let me know in the comments!