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  • Writer's pictureLacy Starling

#6: Delivering a Great Experience

Like most people these days (thank you Covid-19), I do all my shopping online. The only store I've been in since early March is Walgreen's, and that was because they are the only store around me that carries my daughter's favorite candy. (The sacrifices we make for our children.) But even before the pandemic, I hated shopping. It pushes all my anxiety buttons, whether I'm trying on jeans or getting groceries, so I was an early adopter of online shopping, and it has made me something of a connoisseur of the experience. I pay close attention to how companies treat their online customers, because the experience, by its very nature, can be impersonal and distant.

Most companies by now get the mechanics of online shopping right—they deliver their product where it needs to be, when they promised it would be there. (I pay close attention to failures here, though, as I own a company that moves freight.) But that's just the bare minimum. To stand out, I believe a company has to create a better experience, something more like what someone would receive in-store, if they want to make an impression and create raving fans instead of just customers. Last week presented me with the perfect example of creating raving fans, so I had to share it with you, dear readers.

I ordered a tank top and some sweatpants from my dear friend Sue's company. She's created a really cool line of clothes and who doesn't need more #wfh sweatpants, right? The same day, I ordered a couple of pairs of shorts for my daughter from Target. Both packages arrived and sat in quarantine on my dining room table for a few days. (Okay, freely admitting they weren't in quarantine. I was just too lazy/busy to deal with them.) When I finally got around to opening them, I dug into my box from Sue first, because I was super excited to try on my new sweats. (It was laundry day.) Here's what I found when I opened the box:

A beautiful gift bag with tissue and ribbon and a card, along with a bonus gift - two cloth masks. I was THRILLED. Talk about making a purchase feel more special. Just opening that bag made it feel like a gift, not some late-night throw-away purchase I'd made on the web.

Still basking in the glow of my new gear, I opened the box from Target. This is what I saw:

Yep. Sad shorts, lost in a giant box. Needless to say, this did NOT feel special. This did feel like some crap I'd bought online that, yeah, I needed, but I felt the sting of that $24 price tag way more than whatever I'd paid for my sassy new sweats and tank top.

Two equivalent clothing purchases, not for fancy clothes, but for utilitarian items - sweats and shorts. Two very different experiences. And yes, Target is a much larger company, but one could argue that economies of scale would make a nicer presentation even cheaper for a company that size than it is for Sue, who does not run a large multi-national clothing retailer. But, in the grand scheme of things, she's absolutely competing with companies like Target for customers for her clothes. And in my mind, she's winning.

The takeaway here? Presentation matters. Experience matters. Whether you are in person or hundreds of miles away, whether you are selling evening gowns or tank tops—it matters. Think about that in your own business. How can you emulate business owners like Sue and create an amazing experience for your customers, even when you can't see them face to face?

Also, in case you were wondering: Why are my blogs numbered?

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