Knowledge Bank Blog, Channel Execution

Winning Online : The 3rd Moment of Truth

Does your product arrive in mint condition?

There is a small, but very significant, difference in the shopping process online.  The shopper selects a product not THE product.  Ever since Sainsbury’s opened the first self service store in 1950, shoppers have been selecting the specific product they want.  However, online you don’t see the actual product until it is delivered or you collect it.

Yes, interesting, you may be thinking, but does that really matter?  Well, if you are buying Domestos Bleach, probably not.  One bottle differs very little from the next.  However, in some categories it can be a big deal.  Is one steak exactly the same as the next?  What about a banana?  Even in packaged goods this applies.  How many times have you bought the next product back rather than the one at the front of the shelf?

P&G have famously talked about 2 Moments of Truth. Firstly, at shelf when you are buying the product.  Secondly, when you use the product.  We think in online shopping there is a 3rd Moment of Truth – when you receive the product.  What is the quality and condition of the product when it arrives?

A lot of online shopping is based on trust. There are a number of ways that trust is earned, but one of the key ones is at this 3rd Moment of Truth.  Would I have selected this particular product if I was shopping for it myself?

So, what type of products is this particularly relevant to…?

Products that could get damaged in the delivery process.  Could your product leak, could it get crushed, could the outer packaging get dented?  How can you develop more protective, ‘delivery proof’ packaging, so that you arrive in perfect condition?

Products where quality can differ from product to product.  This could be freshness, use by dates, shape of a vegetable or cut of a meat.  Are there clear picking and selection instructions for your category or brand?  And if not, should there be?

Products where presentation matters.  In many categories quality perception is driven as much by how a product looks, as how it tastes (Food) or feels (Personal Care).  Paradoxically, do you have to be even more obsessive about how your product looks in the internet age?

Products where the personal touch is important – for instance, Gifts.  Does a brown box or damaged pack show that you care?  How do you make sure the first thing the receiver sees is what they would see if it was selected and handed over by the giver themselves?

It is interesting that Morrison’s online service includes special packaging to prevent damage to fragile items and the ability to return and receive money-off vouchers for fresh goods found not to be up to standard on the doorstep.  A very conscious effort to address this 3rd Moment of Truth.

So, success is not just what happens at shelf or what happens when the product is used, it is what happens when the product arrives.  It could be the difference between being bought week after week or never again.

Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.