If you are like 75% of the online population, you have had the following experience. You visit the website of an apparel retailer, enjoy the navigation, selection, and the product reviews. You are satisfied with the prices, and you especially love how easy it is to load your items into the virtual “shopping cart.”
You even get over the fear of submitting your credit card number (even though you just read that one of the biggest email service providers on earth was embarrassingly hacked of millions of addresses linked with real names). You click the “you’re almost done” button on your $73 order.
Then it hits you in the eye like a big pizza pie. Shipping charge. $15.95.
“Holy F!,” you say. “What the F?” That’s like an additional, unexpected, tax of more than 20%!
You point your cursor way up high to the right and click on that little “x.” The etailer’s website disappears.
You have just “abandoned” your shopping cart. You were inches from the finish line, but because the retailer was elusive, evasive, and greedy about its shipping fees, it lost your business. Perhaps for good.
So you make yourself nuts, scouring the Web for occasional discounted or waived delivery fees. By God, you will sacrifice the brand you really want in order to save $15. Crazy.
Last week, L.L.Bean called bullshit on the whole situation. The company (who, unfortunately was one of dozens whose Epsilon email file was hacked) announced that online orders will be shipped for free. Always and forever.
With that, L.L.Bean has delivered an excellent illustration of the marketing concept of Play, Differentiate, Win. It is a simple framework, a pyramid with Play at the base. In here are all the things a marketer needs to do just to show up, i.e., simply to be allowed to play. Basic features that every competitor has. For an etailer, providing images of products is a Play item, for example.
Above that are Differentiate items, things a marketer does that most others do not. An example would be making the product images referenced above in Play available in a 360-degree view. Notice we said “most” don’t do this – which means that many competitors do. So you need to step it up even more to be successful.
L.L.Bean management decided last week that “free shipping forever” goes into its Win layer. We’ll get confirmation soon if it did the right thing:
- If L.L.Bean’s online revenues increase in the next quarter.
- If even just one of L.L.Bean’s competitors match the free shipping offer.
If so, L.L.Bean will call that a Win Win.