When online boutiques first started making their debut on Instagram, I confess that I was among the few who staunchly wrinkled my nose at it. My reserve towards it deepened when I learned of the tacky “M.P.” culture that attached itself steadfastly to this new phenomenon. For those of you unfamiliar with social media sales jargon, “M.P.” stands for “Meeting Point”, where it’s essentially a blind date, except instead of describing what you’re wearing, you do a quick sweep of car license plates in a crowded parking lot where a swift exchange of makeup and money takes place through barely winded-down windows.
But as years passed, it became more and more difficult to ignore the growing curiosity as I watched peers order all sorts of gems from simply commenting on a picture. From accessories, to hijabs, to books, and to all the makeup our little hearts could ever desire, especially the ones that require a whole lot of tenacity and nimbleness of fingers when “adding to cart”. I mean, obviously, when compared with the pre-Internet age, online shopping is practically akin to Thomas Edison discovering the light bulb all over again. Short of hopping on a plane and buying it ourselves, the Internet is the second best option and the answer to everyone’s prayers (I can only imagine what my grandmother could have done with all that free time that she could have saved instead of shopping at markets at the break of dawn). However, as I became wiser with the purchases I made and more familiar with the procedures involved, I realized that Instagram is not without its faults as a business platform. What should be the most convenient thing in the world still isn’t as convenient as it should be. Here are my three reasons why as a customer:
1. “DM for price”
Why do people do this? It is literally the equivalent of walking into the store and realizing that there are no price tags, which means that a) you have to ask for the price of every single thing you express the slightest interest in or b) there’s probably already a sales person breathing on your shoulder and giving you a very thorough narrative on the origins of a product you merely glanced in the direction of and are already slowly inching away from.
As Internet customers, we are at our rawest and laziest when browsing through your Instagram inventory. The moment I see “DM for price”, you’ve already lost me to the other thirty other pages which have their prices out in the open and demand much less effort. If you’ve got a competitive edge, flaunt it; if you intend on overcharging, you’re already lagging behind in a very fast-paced game. Also, if you’re planning on expanding and growing, I don’t see how you’ll have the time to waste resources on replying to every single direct message from a customer who’s interested in your items.
2. Rude online service
There is no denying that social media etiquette is an actual thing, especially in 2017. Emojis are practically necessary to establish cordiality in a non-formal, light-hearted setting, no matter how small the talk is. In an era where days are short and responsibilities are never ending, everyone is busy. However, for businesses dealing with front line services, there should never be a thing as being too busy for your customers, much less too busy to be polite to your customers.
Oftentimes, the complaint that I hear from fellow customers is that it seems that by procuring these items for us and allowing us to forego tedious shipping procedures and annoying currency conversions, some larger businesses almost feel like they’re doing their customers a favor. In a heavily consumerist world where there’s often such a thing as too much money and too little time, this may be true to a certain extent. But in a more relevant world where the customer is always right, rudeness is inexcusable and a major turn-off.
- Get rid of the M.P. culture. Invest in cubes.
The other day an acquaintance was asking for some recommended makeup stores on Instagram; however, she was very adamant that the store had its own cube for pick-ups. Cube stores are also yet another shopping phenomenon that altered our shopping dynamic forever. Instead of conducting meeting points, business owners would drop the ordered items at a cube store where the customers will pick them up at their own convenience. The money is left at the cashier for the business owners who will also pick it up at their own convenience. Win-win situation.
Again, as online customers, often we don’t have the time, resources or energy to go out and shop, which is why we rely on the Interweb. To ask us to attend a general meet-up at a fixed time at a fixed place is a hassle. Even during the weekends, none of us really relish the idea of having to divert from our plans of lazing around or spending a day at the beach to drive out just to pick up a liquid lipstick. Do the right thing and invest in a cube, especially for the more established Instagram stores. Your more socially awkward customers will also thank you for saving them from the unnecessary non-social social interaction that an M.P. requires.