The company acknowledged today that it failed to deliver some of the orders placed through its Marthasflowers unit in time for Mother's Day. Company representatives declined to say how many orders were affected or how many Mother's Day orders the company received, saying only that less than 5 percent of the orders were affected.
Company representatives blamed the problem on the fulfillment systems at USA Floral Products, which delivers flowers for Marthasflowers.
"We apologize for any inconvenience this caused our customers," said MarthaStewart.com's parent Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in a statement. "It was a very isolated incident, and we have implemented procedures to prevent this error from happening again."
Similar problems plagued 1-800-Flowers.com over the Mother's Day holiday. The Westbury, N.Y.-based company did not deliver orders placed by at least 158 customers. 1-800-Flowers followed up the delivery problem by exposing the email addresses of the customers affected.
The delivery problems at the online flower sites are only the latest fulfillment troubles for e-commerce companies. During Valentine's Day and last year's holiday season, sites ranging from FTD.com to ToysRUs.com struggled to deliver orders in time.
Analysts say offline powerhouses such as Martha Stewart Living and Toys "R" Us could be haunted by any problems their online counterparts may have. Those companies' reputable brand names could become tarnished by their customers' online experiences.
"When you make errors like this, it really crashes that brand confidence," said Jupiter Communications e-commerce analyst Meredith Medland. "Until e-commerce companies can raise the bar and get it together, they're going to continue to have these challenges."
Martha Stewart Living representatives said the company notified customers about the delivery problem on Monday of last week and that they delivered all of the delayed orders free of charge by Wednesday. But at least one customer said her mother did not receive the flowers she ordered from Marthasflowers until Thursday.
The San Francisco resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said she placed her order for a dozen pink roses on the Wednesday before Mother's Day and asked that they be delivered on that Friday. The customer, who works in Internet marketing, said she would not order flowers from MarthaStewart.com again.
"I guess I felt that I would have a better experience with Martha Stewart because of the brand she's built," the customer said. "She clearly didn't deliver. Everyone's pretty upset."