Published on: January 7, 2020
by Michael Sansolo
Talk about a three-word phrase you’d love to hear a shopper say after a trip through your store. If a shopping trip is fun, interesting and leaves someone wanting more, you’d declare that a winning combination anytime and any day.
"That was fun!"
I actually heard my wife say that recently in the midst of a feverish hunt for a last minute holiday gift. The instructive - some would say sad - part of the story is where it happened and why. It is a tale for and about the new world.
I have a nephew living in Europe and we wanted to send him a gift for Hanukah, which is not exactly the holiday that draws the greatest inspiration in December. After reviewing all the bad options of how hard it would be to send something physical to Germany in December, we decided to ship him an Amazon gift card, not really expecting much of an experience.
We were wrong.
Unsurprisingly, Amazon makes it fairly simple to send an electronic gift card because that’s what they do. What made this special was how the e-commerce behemoth decided to jazz up the experience.
Amazon offered up a variety of short animated videos to accompany any such gift card and frankly, all of them were great - even the Hanukah ones, which again is rarely the case. The choices ranged from Santa surfing ocean waves with gifts to dreidels break dancing to rap music. In other words, there was nothing much traditional, but all of it engaging.
In fact, my wife and I spent some of those precious pre-holiday shopping minutes wasting time, watching each and every video, and then discussing which was best and why. Holiday shopping time is usually loaded with deadline pressure and strange little arguments (we’ve been married quite a while). Not this time though. We laughed and intently watched each video multiple times.
In other words, we forgot the looming deadlines, the lists and other issues and simply enjoyed ourselves. The collection of silly videos changed the task and got my wife to burst out that magic three-word phrase about fun.
The lesson? We all need to find ways to make the ordinary a little special and possibly extraordinary by mixing in some whimsy, discovery and fun. That might come from samples, recipes or who knows what else. It won’t be simple (and I’m sure those videos weren’t that easy to create) but it may be table stakes in the new world of retail competition.
Start by asking yourself whether any shopper of your store, your products or your website would say, “wow, that was fun” after a visit. If the answer is no, the reality is that you might have a completely efficient experience that offers nothing unexpected, exceptional or effective. That might allow you to check all the boxes on necessary retail execution without doing anything distinct or special.
After all, if Amazon is doing stuff like this, it is likely to become a customer expectation rather quickly.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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