What are the barriers of entry into your business? How many blockades to people have to knock over to get into your front door, whether that be virtual or physical? None? Are you sure?
In so many ways I am not the typical consumer but recently chose to make a purchase at Costco, not something I do very often.
But regular readers of this blog know that I do love technology and electronics, especially when they work really well. Needing a companion generator to the one I had purchased earlier, I went back to Costco to get one and that’s where I saw a big banner on the wall telling me that I could now just put my Costco membership card on my phone and never have to carry the physical card into the store again.
Sure enough, the process was dead simple and I tried it by flashing my phone at the front door to the nice lady who scrutinizes the customer as they come in, and also at the cash register as I checked out with my new generator. In fact I never had to break out my wallet at all - I could use my AppleWatch with ApplePay to purchase my items and I could show the nice lady at the cash register my phone with my Costco information on it. Bam. Easy.
Well, easy for a dork like me.
The guy behind me in line was not impressed at all and preferred presenting his physical card and writing a check. He even mumbled some snide comment about my methodology but I don’t care.
My point in this long description of a short transaction is that Costco has reduced one more barrier of entry for nerds like me. I loathe carrying my wallet with me and so I favor stores that let me pay with ApplePay. It’s right there on my watch!
But their adapting to methods that I appreciate didn’t inconvenience the customer behind me with the check book. Instead, they will be happy to do business with you on your terms. While this is a tiny, tiny component of shopping at Costco, or any retailer, it’s just another example of removing a barrier to entry for a customer and making your selling process accommodate what the customer wants.
Frankly, I have been considering not renewing my Costco membership as I really don’t go there much. It’s not convenient and I don’t need that much of any single product, though they do have a very few products that I can’t find elsewhere and that I really like. Until we needed a generator for our RV that was a companion generator to the one we already had, I had actually planned to let the membership expire.
I’ve written before about the layers of your business and how, if one layer becomes a point of failure, having multiple layers of success means that you may not lose that customer. We’ve also talked about the time you kick local business to the curb.
But the reverse is true as well - if there are so many things that are convenient and terrific about working with your business then that may overwhelm a customer into becoming an advocate.
This can be exemplified in Amazon, who no longer are always the low price provider of goods.
Instead, Amazon gets so many things right that it’s difficult not to shop there. For example, you can scan a bar code in a store for a product and read the reviews of that product. This means you can do your research before you’ve ever hit the check stand. You can get notified of practically every step of a shipping transaction on Amazon by email or text. You can easily return Amazon purchases which has to be one of the major barriers of buying things that might otherwise be sight unseen.
Maybe it’s time to see if there are barriers that your business has to success that you might not even realize. For example, are your hours the most convenient they can be for the customer? Could you offer an on-line component? Is contacting customer service as lousy as it is with Google?
I was recently in a café where a customer made a comment about some missing tile on the floor right at the entrance and the response was, “yeah, I’ve been meaning to get to that for a while.” If your front of house has flooring issues what does the kitchen look like? I’ve seen websites for small businesses that are dated looking and complicated to use and there are some sites with payment systems that are just archaic. When was the last time you bought something from your own website - is it as easy as it is on Amazon?
Perhaps you need a new website?
Think of the steps someone has to go through to make a buying decision from you and see if you’re putting up blockades.