Just maybe, it’s not the internet killing your business

Jeff Bezos (Amazon) has been quoted as saying, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

If we think about things that can influence that – your sales process can have a big impact on what people say about you.

This week I have 3 personal experiences with 3 learnings. Are you doing any of these?

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We’ve been shopping recently and on three separate occasions, retailers made the buying process really difficult. Why? Is the retail climate so good at the moment that they don’t need to make it easy for people to, you know, give them money?

I have three anecdotes with three learnings. Let’s get into that now.

G’day, I’m Jason Foss.

If you’re a business owner/operator, I’ve got three experiences here for you today with three lessons.

Cautionary tales, if you like.

This will be a good opportunity for you to check your own customer experience and make sure you’re not making mistakes similar to these.

Story number one. Our first stop for the day was trying to buy one of those little bins to wack your coffee grinds into when you’re finished making a coffee. Pretty simple purchase, boxes about that big, pretty straightforward. Now, in theory, it should have been as simple as picking up the box on the shelf, taking it to the cashier, swiping the card and leaving.

But the way these guys were set up, they only had display stock on the shelves. If you wanted to buy one, you had to get a member of the sales staff to run out the back and grab your box.

Now, that’s fine if that’s your process, but if you’re going to do that, you need to have enough staff on the floor.

They didn’t.

We waited.

Is anyone there?

Nope, there wasn’t. So, we’re looking around trying to kind of make it obvious that we were waiting for somebody. And in the end, we gave up and left. Perhaps, I’ll just buy one online instead.

Now, the lesson from this example is broken into two parts.

So first of all, make sure you have enough people rostered on to support your process.

But another way of looking at that, and my preferred way of looking that is, make sure that your process is as simple as it can be from your customer’s point of view, not from your point of view, make sure that process is simple from your customer’s perspective.

Don’t over-complicate it.

So, story number two, in effectively a cashless society, why do you need coins to use a shopping trolley?

So, you might’ve seen this before. You need to pop a coin in the trolley to release the mechanism and use it that way. And when you put the trolley back when you’re finished, you get your $2 coin back.

That was fine unless you don’t have a $2 coin.

We were kind of lined up to spend about $1,000 with this retailer this day. Didn’t have any cash or coins on us though. So, we’re lugging these boxes around the shop between us trying to get them to the cashier because they’re a bit cumbersome.


This is a classic case of a business taking an inconvenience from them, and pushing that inconvenience onto their customer.

Why is that ever going to be a good idea? How about, as a business, you take on that inconvenience of having to go and collect the shopping trolley or whatever it is and make it easy for your customer.

It’s obvious.

Yeah, you’d think so.

The lesson here is: make sure that any inconveniences are absorbed by you, don’t wash your hands and hand it over to the customer.

My third story is where processing the sale took longer than making the sale.

So, we’ve been on the lookout for some time for some new furniture for a specific room. And we’d finally found something that we both agreed on. Like, that’s a means for celebration straight up.

So, after finally making the decision and getting some furniture that we both agreed on, we spent about an hour at the sales person’s desk while they faffed around on their computer and shuffled pieces of paper, and took other phone calls, and who knows what else that we’re doing.

I’m not exaggerating, it was an hour.

I’m dying here.

I feel your frustration, Sid.

So, we went from being happy and excited about finally getting this sorted to “can we please just hurry up and get it over with” by the time we left the shop.

So, would we be in a hurry to go back there or recommend them to somebody else? Probably not so much.

It could have, and should have, been so much better.

So, the lesson here is kind of obvious, make sure your staff are trained and know how to use your systems.

So my question for you today, and my challenge for you today is, do you make it easy for your customers?

So, we had these three experiences in the one day and they were all poor.

Many bricks and mortar businesses complain about the internet killing their business. But in my experience, especially on this particular day, many retailers do this to themselves.

  1. Make sure the buying process is as simple as it can be from the customer’s point of view.
  2. If there are any inconveniences involved in the sale, make sure you’re wearing those, don’t just expect your customers to be inconvenienced.
  3. And thirdly, make sure your staff are properly trained.

There’s three bits of low-hanging fruit for you to improve that whole customer experience, and your customers and your business will be much better for it.

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