At five months pregnant with baby number one, I am the goldmine customer for many retailers.

At five months pregnant with baby number one, I am the goldmine customer for many retailers.

Expectant mums, particularly those in their second trimester, are typically bombarded with offers and free samples from every retailer looking to court a potential new customer for life. And let’s not forget the lucrative gift registry opportunities, from baby showers to gender reveal parties (yes, these are real).

Such life-changing events are the perfect opportunity for retailers and brands to connect with a new shopper, make a good first impression, and ultimately lock that customer in for the next 18 years.

So, it was beyond appalling that my very first online order placed with Mothercare resulted in me waiting in on two separate occasions for a product that never arrived, and still chasing a refund nearly two months later. Has customer service been thrown out the window in Watford?

Having already attempted the traditional routes to customer service, I tweeted out to Mothercare for help. At this point, all I wanted was my money back.

No reply. I tried again a couple of weeks later and voilà. A personal phone call, refund and vouchers. Although it all ended well, the experience took a total of 42 days from order to refund, resulting in a loss of trust.

Retailers, and Mothercare in particular, cannot afford to make such clumsy internal mistakes. It’s hard enough finding growth in a subdued market, so on those rare occasions when shoppers want to loosen their purse strings, retailers need to be in a position to make that happen – especially if they are your holy grail shoppers trying you out for the first time.

The irony is that the Mothercare product was £5 cheaper than on Amazon, my usual first port of call. This has been a reminder that even in those rare cases when the online giant is more expensive, its brand credibility and reliable deliveries should override a slight variation in price. Before Simon Calver embarks on his plan to shut nearly a third of Mothercare stores, he’ll need to get the online strategy right.