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Create a One-Step Solution for Purchasing Your Offering

Feb 5, 2008
To reduce delays for beneficiaries and users, you need one-step actions for them and for your organization. Perhaps no better example of reducing delays can be seen than in the ways that some retailers are streamlining purchasing processes.

If you go to the usual mass merchandiser's store, you soon have a shopping cart full of bulky items or overloaded arms. You make rapid progress until you reach the checkout lanes. You scan the choices and notice that most registers aren't open. Of the ones that are, several people are usually standing in each line leaning on overflowing shopping carts.

It would be faster for everyone if all customers waited in the same queue and then went to the next available register. You'll find that method in some banks and bookstores but not in mass merchandisers.

These merchants don't want to give up any merchandising space, even if it means more customer convenience. You try to guess which clerks and customers will process transactions the fastest; often you are wrong.

Home Depot has given you another choice. You can go to a self-checkout and pay for your merchandise using automated equipment. With several such self-checkout stands, chances are good that you won't have to wait.

You pass the item's bar code over the scanner or wave a laser wand at the bar code on larger items until everything is scanned in. Then you either insert a credit card or cash to pay. Bags are available to put your purchases in.

Unless you have dozens of items, you can be on your way in a few seconds. During busy times, there is a Home Depot associate lingering in the background to help you with any problems. Some grocery chains also have self-checkouts available.

In the future, the items in many such stores will have radio identification tags on them. With such tags, it will be possible to tally your bill electronically without using a scanner. Some predict that credit and debit cards will also have such radio communications capability. If that occurs, you may someday have the option to simply walk out the door with your merchandise while your bill and payment are automatically processed.

When you buy items online, by comparison, an annoying drawback can be filling out endless requests for shopping cart information. Your computer's software will often ask you if you want to save the information you input. If you select that option to save, your computer may also sometimes fill in the information for you with the vendor . . . and sometimes your computer may not.

Other vendors may also store your shopping cart information so that when you reorder, you don't have to reload. Amazon has always taken this convenience one step further by offering a "one click" option to buy goods based on prerecorded data.

Some suppliers go even further and anticipate what you want to buy. For instance, Staples' Web site has for many years asked you if you want to create lists of what you've just ordered. Then, you can simply select from among those lists on the home page to find the items you want without looking them up on thousands of item pages. With so many office supplies being similar, but potentially unsuitable for a given task, this time-saving choice can be a real help.

That's all fine and good for simple purchases, but what about buying something complicated? Dell has a better idea there. You can call a toll-free number and find a representative who is friendly, knowledgeable, and quick to take you through your choices for ordering a custom-made computer. Presumably these helpful people are backed up with lots of computer screens they can quickly access for frequently asked questions.

While you are on the phone, they'll also let you know what the hot deal of the hour is (something Dell uses to steer customers towards parts that are in excess supply or to avoid parts that are out of stock). You'll also be asked if you want interest-free financing, and the representative can check out the availability of that option for you in a few seconds by employing a fast credit investigation. Naturally, you can also pay by credit or debit card.

So why is creating a one-step solution for purchasing so valuable? If you make it easy to purchase, people will purchase more from you. They won't feel the need to shop around or ask endless rounds of questions. If purchasers use what you offer in a business or nonprofit organization, they'll also start thinking of ways to accomplish more by employing your easy-to-access offerings.

Compare all of this ease with the problems that welfare recipients in the United States often face. Although qualified for many special kinds of assistance from the government, many people cannot read and write well enough in English to make successful applications for aid. As a result, many needed benefits are unclaimed. An alert social worker can make all the difference for such families with young children by alerting the family to its benefit choices and helping with the applications. The social worker is providing a one-step process for these beneficiaries.

Where are you making purchases difficult for customers?

How can you turn those difficulties into a simple, one-step process?
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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