The Great Circle of Shopping

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Just like Life, there is a Great Circle of Shopping. Companies make products that appeal to us, we buy those products, we enjoy the great service that goes along with it, and we keep coming back. If any of those elements are missing, however, the cycle is broken and we take our business elsewhere to start the Great Circle all over again.

I believed this 20 years ago and I believe it even more today…what we buy and where we buy it is an emotional decision. We may think that as consumers we spend our dollars in a methodical, rational way; but truth be told we are all buying with our hearts more than our heads. If that wasn’t true, merchandisers wouldn’t spend so much time and money trying to appeal to our impulse-buying senses. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we make most of our buying decisions simply because there is something that catches our eye and we want it. Even if you’re the type of consumer that labors over every purchase, you’re still buying with your heart when all is said and done.

Let’s take grocery shopping for an example. Our food choices these days don’t represent a need for survival like those of our ancestors. They represent in large part the emotional response we get from eating foods we love. Right now, I’m having flavored applesauce for breakfast – blueberry to be exact. I paid an extra dollar for the privilege of enjoying this tasty treat when I could have saved myself some money by getting a more traditional apple flavor. In fact, if I’d opted for the large jar of regular applesauce, I would have saved just about two dollars. But that’s not what I wanted. For me, it was worth it to have the fancy flavor and the convenience of the individual snack containers because that’s what fits my lifestyle and appealed most to me.

There is also another reason why we purchase what we purchase where we purchase it. It’s the people, the heart of any operation. In my little town, there are two grocery stores that are closer to me, but I drive out of my way to go to “my” grocery store. Why? Because my grocery store has genuinely nice people who go out of their way to help me. After ten years, these folks are still friendly faces who add value to my week and I don’t mind giving them my shopping dollars. I can’t say that about the other grocery stores in town and that’s why I won’t go into those establishments.

Think about the merchants you frequent and why. If there were two or three merchants in your area selling the same thing, at roughly the same price, where would you go? For most of us, the big differentiator is how well the establishment takes care of us from the moment we walk in the door to the moment we leave with purchase in hand. It’s human nature. Personally, I would have to be hard-pressed to purchase from a place that was filled with crabby people who didn’t know how to laugh.

Now take it a step further. There are two or three merchants in your area selling the same thing but one store–the one that treats you so well–sells it at a slightly higher price. Now where will you go? Again, human nature will probably lead most of us to the store with the great service even if it means spending a few more dollars. You could even call that brand loyalty.

We purchase from the heart and we expect companies to service from the heart. It’s not rocket science, surveys show that it works, but we still have companies who simply don’t get it. I guess that’s good news for the merchants who do it right because they will always have the edge. It’s up to us, the consumers, to keep proving them right.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Teresa Sinel
Teresa Sinel is the Director of Operations, Analytics and Innovation for VIPdesk, the award-winning pioneer of home-based virtual customer care solutions for global brand leaders committed to enhancing their brand experience. Serving over 40 client programs and 10 million customers, VIPdesk specializes in delivering Concierge Programs, Contact Center Services, and loyalty programs for national brand leaders in the travel, auto, financial services, real estate and retail industries.

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