Are You Better Than the Internet?

The other day I walked into a brick and mortar bookstore to get a specific title my husband needed for a meeting that evening.  It had been a long time since I’d been in a bookstore other than the ones in airports.  And it was uncomfortable.  I knew where the section was that had the business books, but after spending time scanning the shelves I had to go to the customer service desk because I couldn’t find it.  And there was a line.  And the customer service person walked each person to the section of the store where they could find the book they wanted.  And we waited.  And it was painful.

Why am I telling you this?

Because the internet has changed people’s expectations when it comes to shopping.  There is a convenience that comes from online shopping that we’re getting used to.  I buy almost ALL my books online (and yes, I buy paper books still.  No Kindle yet…I’m waiting for the Android version of the iPad.)  I’m used to just typing in what I want, having it come up, and clicking order.  A few days later, I have what I need.

How has the internet changed the way YOUR customers shop, and how do you need to adapt?  The brick and mortar store I was in, it turns out, DID have a way to search the title I was looking for, but it would have been helpful to have it right next to the customer service desk so I could find it easily.  I didn’t find out until it was my turn, and the customer service guy was already helping me find my book.  Will I return to that store?  Probably only in a pinch.  Because there was no reason to.  My life is easier shopping online.

What do you need to change to make it easier to shop with you?

You need to adapt by providing superior customer service.  You probably have a website…make sure your customers know about it and can find it with just a click.  You can call your customers, listen to what they’re looking for, tell them exactly what you offer, and arrange to have their items delivered to their door.  You can make sure, through your newsletters and Facebook Page, that your customers know what kind of products you have to offer.

You have to be better than the internet shopping experience they’re used to.

You can interpret their needs for them, and offer good solutions, because you’ve listened to them.  You can make things ultra convenient.  Right now your customers are struggling to get their shopping done and shipped.  Offer to take the shipping part off their hands (and maybe even the wrapping part.)  Take their orders, their lists, and do it for them.  This makes you better than the internet.

The internet has changed the shopping game.  How do you need to adapt in order to win and keep customers?  Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

image credit: ktylerconk

3 Responses to Are You Better Than the Internet?
  1. Darren Spruyt
    December 17, 2010 | 9:24 am

    Hey Jen! How’s it going!?

    The internet’s definitely changed the way our lives operate. I visited the Borders bookstore back here in Singapore a couple of days back and they updated their system! I remember I used to have to approach the customer service personnel to find where my book is, but now they have stations where you search it for yourself!

    One thing hasn’t changed despite the internet making like more “convenient” for us. That is superior customer service and relationship building… No matter how automated our lives can become, it is the relationship that adds the human touch to things and that also makes the difference between the good and the great!

    Thanks for sharing this post Jen! 🙂

    Regards,
    Darren Spruyt

    • Jennifer Fong
      December 17, 2010 | 11:15 am

      You are so right Darren. Superior customer service and relationship building has always been what sets direct selling apart. This only becomes more important when competing with the convenience of online shopping. Thanks for commenting!

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