January 8, 2016

Little Things

Where's the tape?

I don’t much like to shop. I’m not comfortable in crowds, which makes shopping for gifts during the month of December about as enjoyable as digging ditches. In the valley. In August.

So before I even enter a store, I make a shopping list so I can get in, and get out, as quickly as possible. I don’t browse the aisles. I don’t linger at the checkout reading gossip magazines. My shopping style more resembles the hundred meter dash than the marathon.

With that context in mind, you can imagine my growing frustration as I searched the seasonal aisles of my local Kmart looking for tape to go with the two rolls of gift wrap I was purchasing. When my search turned up fruitless, I asked an employee who suggested I look in the aisles of school and office supplies.

Now, that might seem a perfectly reasonable and logical place to put tape, and it is. But, by contrast, when I was shopping at a Walmart just a few days later, guess what product they featured, prominently, alongside their wrapping paper?

What Walmart was doing better than Kmart was something called “merchandising,” defined as “the activity of promoting the sale of goods, especially by their presentation in retail outlets.” Amazon, of course, has mastered this, often suggesting products that I didn’t even know I needed until they were presented to me.

So, while this might seem a little thing to complain about, remember that your customer’s experience is comprised of dozens, or even hundreds, of such little things that ultimately sum up their decision whether or not to frequent your business again.

You see, the big things, such as competitive pricing and competent customer service, are merely the ante in a hyper competitive poker game. These are the things that draw people to your table, so to speak, and without them, you might as well fold.

But excelling at the little things, from the composition of your packaging to the personalization of your offers to, yes, where you put the tape, is what keeps them at the table. Indeed, do the little things well, and your customers are apt to push all of their chips into your pot.

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