How do your customers feel when they buy from your company? The answer to this simple question is often the missing piece in your team’s sales growth strategy. Today your company needs to have a buying experience vision and a strategy to deliver customer service just like other strategies you develop, and this must include an online buying experience. Chewy.com owns delivering amazing service how buyers want and need to shop today for pet supplies. Your business too could serve your buyers and make them raving fans. When you do, you too could become the dominant leader in your market.
We all love our pets. They are often considered part of our family. At our home our pets had their own stockings at Christmas! Below is one of our Labs.
The pet industry segment continues to grow at 6%-9% year over year and represents about $62.7 billion in sales.
To date buying what you need for our pets has been an “OK” experience but nothing exceptional. If we needed dog food we probably looked in the Sunday newspaper ads, found our preferred brand of dog food on sale and drove to that retailer and bought it. If your family is like ours, you probably buy more food when you notice you have about a couple days worth on food on hand. We buy our favorite brand and the buying experience at retail was more of a commodity experience.
Given the size of our dogs, and particularly if we are fostering a dog, my wife buys the largest bags of food she can find. My petite wife either struggles to lift the dog food bags into her car or she asks for some assistance from the retailer to help put her purchases into the truck of her car.
When I come home from work I carry her recent purchases into the house from her car. I usually see some unplanned purchases like dog toys or my dog’s new favorite: deer antlers to chew on.
What if a company focused on making buying pet supplies easy?…fun even?
What if they provided friendly and kind customer service?
What if you felt like you were buying from someone like you who loves pets?…not just “a company”
What if someone took the time to understand my needs, buying preferences and designed their business model to serve me?
And what if a company was available at times convenient to me 24/7 online?
We found Chewy.com in 2017 and have never turned back to brick and mortar retail ever since.
At our dogs 5:30 am feeding Thursday I noticed our dog food supply was running a bit low and I left my wife a note. She ordered 2 large bags of dog food from Chewy.com around noon on Thursday and it arrived Friday by 3:00 pm with no shipping charges because our purchase met a minimum free shipment requirement. A very strong box arrived at our door with two bags of food and some dog toys to meet the free freight requirements . (We must be ordering from Chewy.com more than I realized because our dogs recognized the box and were excited with tails wagging when I opened it).
At Christmas my wife ordered some toys from Chewy.com and one of them was not what she expected. The error was our fault. So she called their customer service and actually spoke to a live and friendly person. They did not argue with my wife or make the experience difficult or painful they simply wanted to help her, serve her.
My wife explained one of the toys was not what she expected and wanted to return it. We made a mistake as a buyer and we figured we would pay the return shipping. But what happened next blew us away. The customer service person said: tell you what, I will give you a credit, but do me a favor and donate this toy to a local dog shelter. Huh? In that one moment they won my wife’s’ business forever…brilliant!
What is interesting about this is our family donates to local animal shelters and we foster Labs waiting for their forever homes. (It felt as if they knew this, it was as if knew us) That one conversation won my wife over for life. It’s not about the money something costs anymore from Chewy.com…they give us quick service at a good price (not the cheapest), they make the buying process easy…and most important we feel we are buying from people like us who love pets and we trust.
Your company can make your customers feel the same. Your buyers can feel :All Chewy inside.
Some people reading this might be saying:
“OK that’s interesting for B2C buying but I am in B2B and our buyers are different.”
Well to borrow a quote from one of my mentors:
“You could say that… but you would be wrong”.
“The B2C buying experience has set the service bar for all buying experiences whether you like it or not… so B2B companies need to step up.”
– Mark Allen Roberts
Your B2B buyers, who buy things like: custom air intake parts, gears, exhaust systems, steel, industrial air compressors, oil,wood pallets… at work, also buy things as B2C buyers for their families.
B2B buyer needs, how they want to shop, when they want to shop and the desired buying experience and service expectation has become the same as B2C, it is just the products and services are different.
What do B2C and B2B buyers want?
Buyers today want easy buying experiences with companies they trust.
Buyers today are hungry for authentic sales and service people who will genuinely take the time to understand them and serve their needs.
Buyers want fast friendly service from companies that do what they promise.
Buyers today like to shop and buy online.
Over 70% of shopping is done on a mobile device.
B2B companies must recognize buyers like and prefer to shop online. As much as 70% of the buying journey happens before a buyers contacts you today. This is not some fad that will go away, it is a behavior we all must recognize, adapt to and strategically plan to be the supplier of choice.
One of the founders of Chewey.com turned his vision into a strategy and supporting processes.
“From the beginning, we came in saying that we want to provide pet parents with the most amazing customer experience. Period.” –Ryan Cohan
I promise you they did their voice of the customer work and shaped their business to serve their ideal customer profile and buyer personas. Chewy.com is the fastest growing pet supplies company (they even beat Amazon).
A Miami Herald article shared …“According to 1010Data, Chewy.com rules the online sales of pet food, with nearly 51 percent of the online market, including 40.5 percent in direct sales and 10.2 percent in subscription sales. The nearest competitor isn’t even close. Amazon.com cornered nearly 35 percent of the market, with 23.5 percent in direct sales, 7.6 percent in subscriptions and 3.6 percent at retail. “
Chewy.com executed their online strategy and customer experience vision so brilliantly Petsmart bought them in 2017 for $3.3 Billion.
How about your company…
Do your buyers like to shop and buy online? (Let me help you. the answer is YES!)
Has your B2B Company developed an online strategy and presence?
What is your web site’s current hit rate?
What is the most frequently visited page on your website?
On that page what is the most frequently viewed area? Content?
If you are online and able to receive customer orders…is it easy and enjoyable?
How do you know?
Is your web site Mobile friendly?
How is your web site trending in terms of site visits?
What content you published is driving he most traffic to your site?
Where is that content found?
What else do buyers view when they are on your site?
How long are they on your site?
How many new buyers visited your site?
If you have an online purchasing capability, how many buyers start the process of buying then drop off?
Why do they drop off?
What is your strategy to recapture drop offs?
In what stage of buying are they dropping off most?
The above questions and many more Ecommerce metrics for online buying must become part of your weekly senior management performance review meetings. At the same time you are discussing field sales call results, sales revenue, gross profits and sales forecasts, B2B companies must start adding the above metrics to their KPI’s.
I shared I was going to write this article with a past client and she shared:
“This is an Interesting topic, but it does not apply to our company since we use dealer distributors to fulfill our orders.”
As I shared with her… B2B Company’s need to own the online buying experience, those that do will dominate their space, this is even more critical for companies who sell through dealer distributors. As a B2B company you must own the sales and buying conversation and deliver your product through your dealer distributors for fast and exceptional service.
I am a huge fan of working with dealers and distributors. I have done so for over 20 years. From my experience, companies who help the end buyer buy through local distributor networks become even more valued by their channel partners. That order sent through your distributor often opens the door to a new customer relationship for the end user and your distributor. That order could be coming from one of your distributors key accounts and by sending it through the local distributor you reinforce their value in the buying experience. There is a high probability your distributor also carries other complimentary products and services this end user would value. This new order has a lifetime of purchases value for your distributor beyond your order.
Has your team developed your customer service vision to make how you serve your customers your distinctive competence?
Our family is sold on Chewy.com. I noticed both of our adult children are now ordering from them for their pet food and accessory needs. All my wife’s friends now buy from them after hearing my wife’s experience as a raving fan.
Personally I wish Chewy.com offered supplies for ponds like water treatment supplies and Koi food. Once they do I too will be a raving fan. I hate the way I am treated when I buy supplies for my Koi pond. Some of the retailers who carry these niche products treat me like they are doing me a favor to sell me. Every time I buy Koi food at a retailer I feel they should be wearing a mask for what they are charging when I check out.
As a buyer I get it…this is a very niche product, not many people carry it so they can mark it up like they do. Since this specialty retailer is the only one around for an hour drive or so, they can treat customers with an average to poor buying experience…today. I get it but that does not mean I like it!
This is usually where a company like Chewy.com is born.
If you have not developed your online buying strategy and service expectations for your customers I promise you some one will. (Particularly if the current buying experience is average to poor)
Why not make your company the one who dominates in the online buying journey and customer experience in your market?
It’s not a matter of “if” someone will do this in your market…it’s a matter of “when” based on buyer preferred buying experience and service expectations today.
(My guess for most of you is someone in your market is already working on this, or has done it)
Does buying from your B2B Company make your buyers feel all Chewy inside?
Your buying experience needs to to be a strategic part of your buying process if you want to have continuous profitable sales growth in a world of buyers who want and like to buy online.
What about your company…
Do you have an online buying strategy? How is it working?
Is adding new customers a key part of hitting your sales objectives?
Is growing your marketshare a key part of your growth plans?
Is growing sales with your distributors and dealers critical to having a strong sales year ?
Would your team like to have a dominant market position?
Is there any reason why your team would not want to have a strong online buying experience and a strategic service expectation?
Some common sales problems are needing to grow sales with current accounts and finding and closing new accounts. When your company has a strong online buying experience and you make your buyers feel all chewy inside your team will realize profitable sales growth with current and new customers.
If your team would like to learn more about Ecommerce metrics I suggest you read the below articles:
A last note: Our family are raving fans of Chewy.com. They are not a client of mine or have ever been a client of mine. I chose to write about them because they help teach B2B companies how to best serve buyers of today.