I was having a chat with a friend over lunch today about the relationship companies have with their customers, especially online companies.
It is very difficult to go anywhere or do anything within having some request for money put on you. Whether it is a simple as getting on the bus or reading a magazine there is always someone demanding money for something, the fare, the flashy adverts tempting you to buy a suit that makes everyone want to sleep with you. Everybody wants money from you but how often do you really get something back from them, well beyond whatever it is you have paid for?!
The internet is funny in the vast majority of things you probably use online never ask you for money. It has got to the point where, apart from shopping online the vast majority of people feel upset if they are ask to pay for a service, even if it is as simple as being forced to see an advert where before there were none. You just have to read about the storm that was created by users when Twitter unveiled plans to include advert tweets in their feeds. The internet is the fastest commercial advancement to have ever happened to mankind, yet so much of it remains uncommercial.
This is where I find online wine sales very interesting. Selling wine online is difficult to say the least. This is purely speculation but I suspect the majority of people buying wine online do it for convenience and price comparison( Majestic, Virgin etc). Then there are a lot of people looking for specific wines they cannot find in their local merchants (Berry Bros, Great Western Wine and any other high end merchant). Then, there are the much smaller group who are purely looking for a new experience either in where they shop or what they drink (this is my category). These people may have heard about our website or stumbled across it, either way something about the way it works has appealed to them and the have chosen to part with not insignificant amounts of money in order to experience the full journey on it.
When they receive the wine they enjoy it but don’t drink anything they simply must drink everyday. Therefore why on earth would they decide to try again? They may receive an email from me once a week suggesting they buy something else but then they receive an email from 5 wines websites asking to use them!
In order to make sure that customer will use you every time they get thirsty they must feel part of the company, part of every decision made, they need to know that I care about them more than I care about my own dog and yet I must convey all of this digitally…wrap them in a cosy blanket of text, pictures and videos, engage them in flirty pillow talk every night so they dream about nothing other than their next order and who else they can tell about this great new website they have found!
I can’t afford just to take peoples money, it is too easy for them to leave me forever. I have to make sure I always give something back, I think that is the key to the internet. Whatever activity you engage with from retailing to blogging your audience can so easily go elsewhere so ensure they couldn’t be happier than in your company.
The tough bit is, how to do this! I am working on that bit!