About 90% of my overall shopping experience is online. I imagine it might never go higher, as I was reminded this week shopping for a new Carry-on flight bag. There are hundreds of sizes, colours, styles, pouches, attachments, wheels, and prices, and running the endless combinations on the internet is less than efficient. Especially as I found myself on the east side of Manhattan, not far from the most popular retail shopping mecca in New York City. It was a great experience, replete with lugubrious commissioned sales people plying the latest and greatest luggage.
It did not take long to sort through the myriad choices to the one or two bags that fit my needs, including eight-wheels and upright. And the most fun of all: what would I pay? There was the price tag to guide the conversation – and a 40% holiday discount. But there was tax and there was shipping, and one of them had to go. Haggling with a sales person in the Cairo’s Khan Al-Khalili souk off of al-Azhar street is one thing (entertaining and romantic), but on Lexington and 59th in 2014 we do things differently to shift the conversation: remove the iPhone and start to tap in words……
Suddenly I am Lex Luthor holding Kryptonite in Metropolis, and the salespeople look to one another and huddle together for a moment. (“Maybe he’s not a hayseed, Doug…”).
“Sir, (now I am sir, nice.) we can ship this from our supplier free of charge, and we have an additional 15% discount that we can apply to the purchase today.”
All great, and I got the luggage, delivered to the house, at the price that I wanted, and used the retailer for more than a showroom. But why the drama? Why not cut to the chase and provide me with the best deal. Here is the deal: in the original formulation of caveat emptor, ‘let him beware,’ it was translated as ‘let the buyer beware’ because it reflected a time when the one selling a product knew more than did the one purchasing. But the tables have turned, and now let the seller beware: the buyer knows as much, and often far more, than the seller.
To get to an enterprise that respects the buyers expectation to buy with trust, the enterprise will need to preempt the haggling and preying on buyer ignorance, as, sooner or later, the customer will figure out that they are not getting the best deal. Not only will they sulk and shop elsewhere, but they will take untold shoppers with them.
Let’s get ahead of the trend and sell differently – as partner with the buyer. For the times they are ‘achanging.
Are you there yet?