May 17, 2015

The Little Red Campfire

It's not warm at night on the west side of the Cascade Mountains. You don't just sit outside and sweat. In fact, you probably need a sweatshirt or two if you're going to sit outside for a few hours.

Unless you have the Little Red Campfire.

This little thing cranks out a whopping 65,000 BTU's of propane-infused thunder. Within ninety seconds, it is as if you are sitting outside in Topeka in June ... but without the bugs.

Anytime I sit somebody down in front of this thing, I hear this:
  • "I have to have one!"
Do you understand the gravity of that sentence? You know you're a successful Digital Merchant when customers "have to have one".

Let's view the purchase process from the eyes of a customer who "has to have one".

Start with Google. 

We compare two companies ... Amazon ... and Camping World.
Camping World doesn't look too promising, based on price ... but the unproven omnichannel thesis suggests that a customer will ignore a higher price because of the myriad benefits of a digital relationship with a store-based brand. So let's follow some in the vendor/consultant community down the rat hole.

I start by filling out my shipping address ... I hit a wrong key while trying to get Google to auto-fill information for me, and I ended up in another tab. When I get out of that tab, I am greeted with the following message:

Because I was a complete idiot and hit the wrong sequence of keys, I am rewarded with a five dollar discount! Why do I deserve to pay less, when a customer fully capable of using a computer keyboard ends up paying more? Is this a new best practice?

Camping World won't let me check out unless I tell them what kind of RV I own. Is this a new best practice? Because in the old days, the pundits demanded a frictionless experiences.

Here comes the cash-based reason to add friction.

No thanks (but Kevin, you could have received a $20 merchandise certificate ... #crm #personalization #bounceback).

Not interested in roadside assistance? How about a Camping World Visa with Rewards? Mind you, I have yet to see what shipping is going to cost me.

It is interesting that they place this offer over the shipping and handling window ... because they probably realize that the customer is going to be really disappointed with the cost of shipping and handling.


I get standard 10-14 day shipping for free (does it really take 10-14 days to ship an item to my home, when I can pick it up from a store 45 miles away - that's about four miles of transit per day, I sure hope I get a tracking number so that I can actively monitor foot-by-foot progress). However, this is considered a heavy item, so tack on another $10.00.

Total omnichannel value proposition at Camping World? $139.41 with sales tax. #Omnichannel!!

Total cost at Amazon? $120.79 with sales tax. And the item will arrive in two days, no surcharge, no nonsense.

Again, just so we understand what Digital Marketers with an omnichannel preference are asking of the customer:
  • It took me four clicks on Amazon to buy the item for $120.79. I'll have the item in two days.
  • I took a scintillating omnichannel journey at Camping World, one where I was given a $5 discount for being unable to properly utilize a computer keyboard, one where I was offered the chance to purchase Good Sam Roadside Assistance for less than eighty dollars, one where I was offered the opportunity to acquire yet another Visa card, before learning that the net cost of the item would be at least eighteen dollars more than I could procure the same item from Amazon for - and I would enjoy a 10-14 day delivery window unless I was willing hand over even more money.
There's a reason that everything you read tells you that the scintillating omnichannel journey at Camping World is a best practice ... it's simple ... vendors and consultants and trade journalists and researchers all get paid. Only the brand and the merchant supplier get paid in the Amazon example.

Allow me to define two terms for you.
  • Digital Merchant: A marketer who cares deeply about aligning must-have products with great customers/prospects. Once the connection is made, the digital merchant steps out of the relationship, and allows the merchandise to speak for itself.
  • Digital Marketer: A marketer who cares deeply about being a middleman. The Digital Marketer does not believe in the merchandise being sold, but instead, believes in a series of cross-sells, up-sells, cart abandonment offers, discounts, promotions, omnichannel strategy, CRM, cross-brand credit offers, cross-brand partnerships, strategy, attribution algorithms, optimization, personalization, engagement, conversations, sale events, and anything else that shine sun on the Digital Marketer.
I know, I know, I'm going to get angry emails from the industry ... not from those of you working at companies like Camping World, however. Let that one sink in for a moment.

Which purchase process do you, as a customer, prefer? Not as a marketer, but as a customer?
  1. Four clicks via Amazon, resulting in a lower price and product arrival in two days?
  2. The world created by the Digital Marketer at Camping World, a world where building a relationship with Visa is prioritized as more important than the communication of shipping costs to the customer, a process that yields a higher price and glacial shipping?
The process you prefer dictates whether you are a Digital Merchant or a Digital Marketer.

Now, be honest - which process does you company employ?

Are you a Digital Merchant, or a Digital Marketer? There's a big difference.