When Convenience Becomes Inconvenient

When we think about marketing strategy, or even market research, we always think about one of the Four (or Five) P’s, Place. Place is about distribution. How does the thing get into the hands of your customer?

Our advice is always to make it as easy for the customer as possible. The omnichannel movement has preached the gospel of having your product or service be accessible everywhere and anywhere the customer is. It sounds very caring and good, in this season of giving. But recently, we’ve had an experience or two that has made us pause to reflect on that. 

I ordered a few items online from a large department store. I can get to said store in 15 minutes, honestly, but I was super busy, knew exactly what I wanted, and loved the convenience of having it delivered to my door, while I worked on something else. There was an online sale, and free shipping, making it even simpler. Fantastic, right? Here’s the thing…

The first thing that happened was a notification that the first item had shipped, but that the second was on backorder. These were very small items, size-wise. So the first arrived within a day or two, in a box more than ten times its size. Such waste! Oh, the poor planet. The other item said it was shipping a day or two later, but took nearly two weeks to get here. Tracking showed that it went from a warehouse in the west end, to a sorting station, to another station in the east end, and eventually, after sitting who-knows-where for the rest of the time, to my door, downtown. 

Now I, as a customer, was pretty patient. I didn’t need these things urgently, I just wanted to save myself the time and trouble of a trip to the store. But it did annoy me that the second item travelled all around the city. How many GHGs were pumped out while that occurred? And then when it arrived, again, a box many times its size. Neither of the items were breakable. They didn’t need special cushioning. The store just used the boxes they had, I guess. Either item could have easily fit in a padded envelope. 

My reflection was this: I did like the convenience. What I hated, I mean, really hated, the fact that these items travelled all over the city, and used so much packaging, by the time they arrived. And I think, if I had been given a reminder or even an incentive to come to the store, I might have done it. Heck, I know I would have, since I have been to the store at least once in the ensuing two weeks. And I might not have felt so guilty at the impact my perceived savings and convenience have had on the planet. 

So by all means, make it easy and convenient for your customer. But when making it easy and convenient for your customers comes at another cost, perhaps a higher-order cost that may matter to them, it’s worth reminding them of that. In the long run, we’ll all be better off. 

I’m Megann Willson, and I’m one of the partners here at PANOPTIKA, along with Steve Willson. For nearly two decades, we’ve been helping our clients see everything they need to know to make better business decisions, using strategic research and expert facilitation. And today we’ve been married for 39 years. Happy anniversary! You can find more content from us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. We also share business news you can use, offers, and recommended links and reading every week. You can subscribe using the orange button, and if we’re not adding value, subscribe anytime.