One is transactional, the other is experiential.  One is most definitely a commodity, the other is ripe for differentiation and delight.

Many people will pay more (in dollars and/or time) for a better shopping experience – either to ensure they make the right selection or simply because they enjoy the experience itself.

We don’t always buy the best, sometimes we buy from our favorite.  Or in Challenger Sale parlance:

  • How you sell is more important than what you sell
  • The value of your insights trumps the quality of your product

Take running shoes, for example.  This past weekend I needed a new pair, and if you are a runner you know how complicated that purchase can be.  Countless different types of shoes for different running styles, habits, feet, etc.

Buying online doesn’t cut it.  Even buying at most big-box athletic supply stores isn’t going to help me make the right selection.

Instead, I shop at Everyday Athlete in Kirkland.  Every employee is knowledgeable, and they typically ask me to try on at least 4-5 pairs to ensure the right fit.  I pay a little more but end up with a better purchase experience, a better product and a significantly better usage experience.

For convenience and price, Amazon wins.  But Amazon will never beat Everyday Athlete for running shoes.

This is why small businesses are still thriving.  It’s why big-box bookstores are gone but many small shops, especially specialty shops that focus on cookbooks or children’s books for example, survive.

They don’t focus on the product for sale.  They can’t compete with Amazon on price.  But if you need a special gift for a specific person on your holiday list, which experience is more likely to lead to a successful outcome?

This message isn’t just for retail.  We talk a lot in B2B about buying journeys, but what is your buying experience like?  What are you doing, proactively, to create differentiation and delight?