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Let's Shop Until the Trend Drops

Mar 23, 2008
Businesses are finding that real-time feedback can be extremely valuable to their success. Consider mail-order shopping, for example.

Let's say you bought a certain set of items a few years ago and nothing similar since. When the catalog seller thinks it may be time for you to replace these items, you will be prompted to do so the next time you call to place an order for anything.

If you then say you're interested in buying the same items again, the person on the telephone will use your computer record to describe to you what you bought last time, ask you how it worked for you, and describe the current items that would be acceptable replacements.

If you make any casual comments while placing your order, such as what color you like, the size of your family, or whatever, those bits of information can be logged into the computer. Then other purchasing suggestions could be made that build on what you have just told the order taker. For example, you may be asked if any of the family members you described has a special occasion coming up for which you'll need a gift.

Then more probing questions will help elicit what that person likes and what kind of gifts you like to give. If you do buy a gift as a result, chances are you would be reminded to buy that person an appropriate gift next year at this time for the same special occasion.

If such customer interactions in total show the mail order company that a new trend is developing, such as changes in customer tastes, the firm can quickly shift its purchasing to emphasize those items that will be in more demand by consumers, while reducing the acquisition of items that will be in less demand. Naturally, orders taken over the Internet can provide even more information to the mail-order provider, by determining what items are looked at as well as which ones are purchased.

Clearly, measurements can help you anticipate conditions so you can correctly outfit and position your enterprise to get the most benefit from those conditions. But rather than passively measuring the surface of what's going on, you need to follow the example of the catalog retailer described above who probed with questions to find out what else the customer was thinking. Otherwise, you will just be measuring what has happened . . . not where the trends are going now.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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