For details concerning the closure of our online store,
and the future return of an online presence,
please see the information below...
Although Fort Thompson Sporting Goods implemented every means of protecting our customers' credit card and account information, within our site, this does little to prevent identity thieves from using stolen credit card information to purchase goods from our site. We lose money when this happens, because we lose the item that we sold, and we lose the money when charge backs occur after the credit card and merchant service companies penalize us with the victim's monetary loss. We took measures to monitor and avoid fraudulent transactions, but when multiple sources are involved with fulfillment of the orders, sometimes fraudulent transactions fall through the cracks.
It is common for customers to order an item and have it shipped to another home address of a relative, or to their temporary location when they are not present at the billing address. We avoided shipping to P.O. boxes, or to another country, and only ship items to legitimate residential addresses in the continental United States. However, modern thieves are brave and are sometimes bold enough to ship an item to a residential address in the same town as the billing address, by adding the real customer name to the address, and which looks innocent and not unusual. This is no longer a safe practice for order fulfillment. In the future, when we implement a new online store, and control it entirely in-house, product orders will no longer ship to anywhere but the actual billing address for the credit card, unless it is a firearm order that is being shipped to a valid and verified FLL dealer. This may seem inconvenient for a few consumers, but for the majority, it is the best method, and will protect us and the consumer's money.
NOTE: At no time has any of our customers' account or billing information been compromised. The above statements are referring to credit cards that were used on our site to purchase items in an illegal manner, from outside individuals or false customers. This in no way affected any of our other customers that made purchases on our online store.
Companies often utilize shipping methods that fulfill orders directly from the warehouse or vendor that otherwise would have to come to the physical store, and then be shipped again to the customer. By shipping directly from our vendor, it saved money, for us and the customer, as well as helped speed up delivery time to the customer. It is faster and less expensive for all, but it is not perfect, and it takes the advantage of full quality control out of our hands. When a large vendor ships thousands of orders a day, mistakes happen, and then we have to answer for it with the customer. This also leads to issue number three.
On very RARE occasions, a customer will see an item is "In stock" on a Web site and place an order, at exactly the same time another customer places an order for the same item, but there may be only 1 item left in stock at the warehouse. If both transactions are submitted at the same time to the fulfillment warehouse, someone loses out depending on whose order is filled first. Again, this is VERY rare, but it can happen when an order has to transmit through multiple parties to be fulfilled. In the future, when we implement an in-house system, the items' in-stock inventory numbers will be live and in real-time, because we will only ship what we have in the physical store. And this leads to the fourth and final issue.
While our online store was live, there were hundreds of additional products available for purchase that we do not carry in the physical store, simply because we cannot carry every possible product due to lack of our own warehouse or store space. Most physical stores cannot carry everything that is available in the sporting goods market. Our online store was essentially a window to every possible product that our primary sporting goods vendor could distribute and fulfill as an order. This is very common with online stores, to offer all available products from a vendor resource. However, when some of our local customers would see items in the online store, and then not see them in our physical location, we started receiving complaints when they could not buy the item here at Fort Thompson. With that in mind, there are also items in our physical store that we could not sell within the online store, because they are not carried by the major sporting goods distributors, and instead come directly from the companies that own and manufacture the products. Attempts to explain this situation, just didn't sit well with some of our local customers.
These four issues are the principle reasons that have led to our shutting down of the Fort Thompson online store. We plan on building an in-house shopping solution in the future, that corrects the issues with the following measures: