We all lie a little bit.
Someone asks how you are, and you say you are fine.
When you really aren’t.
And so it goes. You smile when you don’t feel like it. You say nothing when someone says something stupid. You ask someone how they are when you don’t care. Your polite to someone when you really want to be sarcastic. You blame someone else when it was really your fault. Or you accept blame in the place of someone else.
All these little ‘white lies’ act as a social lubricant. Or at least that is wheat we convince ourselves we are doing.
But if you have never stopped to think about it, do it now. Is it really helpful? Is it really to make things go smoother and is it really about sparing the other person’s feelings?
Or is it really about your own weaknesses? Your own inability to communicate truthfully? About your fear of confrontation? About not revealing your potential prejudices? Is it about banking some goodwill?
Is it just about pretending to be nice?
These very same little lies permeate our own business practices.
We don’t serve a customer well because they are human beings who deserve to be treated well; we do it because we want to make more money off them. We don’t treat our employees well because we should, but because we don’t want to go through the hassle of recruiting and retraining all the time.
But the most serious lie we tell is when we lie to ourselves. When we tell ourselves what we need to ‘hear’. When we avoid the truth about ourselves because it is unpleasant.
Maybe our employees don’t like us much. Maybe our customers are just being polite when they greet us. Maybe my store sucks and can’t admit it.
Recall Simon Cowell – your favourite American Idol judge – and some of his blistering comments. The reason the Idol franchise took off was in no small part due to his withering assessment of some of the contestants. And he made it personal too. Someone being brutally honest on national TV was suddenly a breath of fresh air.
While that can be dismissed as ‘entertainment’, I suspect that we need that same breath of fresh air in our everyday lives. It is no coincidence that behavioural intervention programmes (like AA) always have such a brutal admission as the very first step on the road to recovery.
White lies may seem to be beneficial on the surface but I suspect that, in the long run, we’d all be better served with brutal honesty.
Showrooming appears to be on the mind of most retailers. For those without a multi-channel it is a big problem, but even those with multiple channels, there are practical difficulties (such as price harmonisation, as explained here.)
Zendesk published a survey (a summary and exposition here) and found amongst other things that:
Showrooming is alive and well. 67% of online shoppers have made purchases in the past six months that have involved multiple channels, e.g., visited a store, looked at a catalogue, or called the retailer before purchasing online.
A much better approach was by Ryan Healy, asking how showrooming can be used to your advantage. (Read the comments for ideas.)
Showrooming must not be defended against, and actually must not even be turned to advantage. It is now just a plain and simple fact of life.
At the core of the solution is the mobile phone. But it is not about the technology. Mobile phones simply represent a more convenient way to use a telephone and computer and a camera etc. Customers have ALWAYS wanted convenience and this will not change in our lifetimes.
Paul Wallbank wrote a piece on ‘delighting the customer being the new normal’. It would be easy to gloss over this sentiment and think that this has always been the case. But ‘customer delight’ is significantly removed from customer relations, customer service or customer satisfaction. To delight a customer requires the delivery of an experience that is an order of magnitude better and different to what is currently considered ‘normal’.
In fact that same Zendesk survey points out that only 7% are "extremely satisfied" that brands provide a seamless, integrated, and consistent customer service experience across channels.
That leaves a lot of room for improvement. But the fact that hardly anyone is doing this right is also a massive opportunity for those who do so first.
The question everyone asks of course is …HOW?
Unfortunately the answer to that is not simple and neither is there one answer for every retailer. It really does depend on the retail proposition, the format, the market and your infrastructure. The solution will involve technology, which suggests you may have to consider your affinity with technology, your pain threshold, your tolerance for ambiguity and the depth of your pockets.
In the meantime, there is another universal truth about customers. (Convenience is the other as mentioned earlier.) This truth is that customers always have and always will seek VALUE.
They don’t buy on price. (That is NOT primarily what showrooming is all about in most categories.) If you knew how to create and sell value in your store, showrooming is a secondary factor in the customer’s decision making process.
The only category of product where it is mostly about price, is when a consumer has to make a grudge purchase (e.g. fuel) and few readers here would be in that space.
Learn to offer value and make it convenient. That is the foundation (not the solution) for delighting customers. Without a foundation, the retail proposition is rarely sustainable, and whatever solution you devise to embrace showrooming, it is more likely to work as intended.
Ganador: For smarter and more productive people in the 21st century economy.
This is what it would like.
But it aint gonna happen for a VERY long time.
In addition to these examples there are specific technological advances – particularly in mobile and in the payments space which are not covered here. (The bold phrases highlight the underlying eCommerce trend as I see it.)
- C-Wonder is setting the benchmark in customer experience. (Read my write-up here.)
- Barneys is doing things with shoppable video ( Read my write up and comparison with David Jones here.) The videos expire as products are sold out, so google the topic to get a fresh crop of videos.
- Hointer is a start-up that uses in-store robots. (Watch YouTube Video here). Just to make the point that eCommerce is not just internet.
- Adidas shows off their Virtual Wall – a few steps up from the supermarket on the train station.
- You could integrate with OpenSky and use the power of social networks.
- In the case of Mulu, (watch video here) you can be beaten or you can join them.
- Of course, there is the local Shoes of Prey, who has taken personalisation to a whole new level; but there are others too – like Juicy Canvas.
- Warby Parker tackles the difficult category of Eyewear, and taps into our social zeitgeist by donating a pair to someone in need for every pair sold.
- Everlane take pricing transparency to a whole new level.
- Birchbox is a pioneer in the area of subscription commerce.
In addition of course there are the well-known concepts around flash sales, group buying etc. and neither mentioned Pinterest or Facebook (and other networks) in leveraging online sales –presuming these are well-known.
If you are thinking about embarking on this journey – a few high FIVES for you:
- These are 5 keys to your eCommerce strategy.
- And these are the 5 critical decisions you musty make about eCommerce
- Mashable covers 5 hot eCommerce trends – including good news for the little guys.
And finally, here is TRENDHUNTER’S 42 online shopping innovations.
That should keep you busy for the next week…
Ganador: Learning & Development for the 21st century retailer dealing with the 21st century consumer.
- The big guns of the start-up world analysed really well.
- Celemi Web App to crunch some ‘what if’ scenarios on your business performance.
- The fragilista (as floated by NN Taleb originally) covered nicely here: For those who think they can know everything.
- Honest Slogans – What people really think when they hear your brand slogan.
- Toastmaster Speech of the Year (a few years ago): Good to watch the craft of public speaking – and an inspiring topic
- Here is a great Quora thread on eCommerce innovation.
Your store entrance
is important in achieving two main objectives:
- Should be inviting (attract customers)
- Must not present a barrier to a prospective customer
This is achieved by:
Making it convenient:
- Ensuring no steps are placed at the entrance
- Sufficient width for easy passage– especially in high-traffic areas
- Easy access for pregnant/handicapped persons or those with trolleys where appropriate (no merchandise/fixtures to clutter entrance)
Making it attractive:
- Good lighting (bright/ visible signage and or shopfront)
- Changing entry statements at least monthly to remain interesting and noticeable
- Use attractive and attention-getting colours in windows, displays and signage
Ask your staff/family/friends to pretend to be customers and to make notes of anything that may inconvenience the customers. They should also use trolleys and prams to test the flow and remedy any issues accordingly.
This week I wrote an introspective post about blogging. So I thought it only appropriate to make the Friday Funny about writers and their egos.
AND HERE IS A CRACKER.... that only writers may appreciate.
There was once a young man who, in his youth, professed his desire to become a great writer.
When asked to define great, he said, "I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, howl in pain and anger!"
He now works for Microsoft writing error messages.