In this little story, you can put yourself in the driver seat of a real eCommerce business. And think through whether it makes sense for this business to invest into web 2.0 style, social media capabilities for its web site.
It turns out that the answer to this question may have a lot to do with good customer analytics.
But this post is just a teaser. The full article is planned to be published on CustomerThink.com in October. This teaser only describes the question really. The answer that is on my mind will be proposed in the full version of the article.
Hey, but maybe you can make a suggestion and help me shape that article with your opinion?
If you are a Manhattanite you will know Freshdirect, the online grocery. Their delivery trucks are seen throughout the residential areas of town. If you are not a New Yorker, then I am sorry that you are missing out on this most awesome of online grocery shopping experiences.
Most importantly, not just the web site but the end-to-end customer experience is terrific. Freshdirect delivers really good produce and even some of the best fresh fish in Manhattan. Their bananas come protected in bubble wrap. Should anything go wrong with a delivery, replacement arrives for free the next day.
As for Freshdirect’s web site, it has become really sophisticated over time. To minimize the time it takes to shop you can pull up your previous shopping carts and edit them. You can load the entire ingredients for recipes into your cart with a single click. There are suggestions of other items that you might also like.
Yet, one thing that you will not find on Freshdirect.com today is a Web 2.0 experience.
That is to say, there are no customer reviews, no recipes uploaded by customers, and no videos uploaded by customers to share their own take on Freshdirect’s recipes. Neither are there dinner clubs that allow home chefs to network with each other over Freshdirect meals.
Imagine now that you are a customer experience consultant brought in to advise Freshdirect’s CEO whether they should augment their web site with social media features vs. investing in other ways of growing the business (e.g., advertising, promotions, etc.) So should they do it?
A while back, I asked a room full of Manhattanites that question. And everybody agreed that the mentioned Web 2.0 features would be highly desirable for the customer experience. But then I asked the key question that Freshdirect’s CEO would probably want to know:
Would Freshdirect sell more groceries as a result of these Web 2.0 activities?
The room could not come up with an answer, and neither could I at that time.
Well, would more New Yorkers switch from shopping at brick & mortar groceries to shopping online because of the Web 2.0 capabilities?
Some probably. But it seems that most people’s preference would have a lot more to do with their life style, whether they have a car, or whether they prefer picking produce themselves. I could easily imagine some folks going to Freshdirect.com to participate in the social media while continuing to shop their groceries wherever they are used to doing.
Will Freshdirect’s existing customers buy more groceries because of the Web 2.0 features?
Probably not, we thought, because a person can only eat so much in any given day. So, how much more could they be shopping?
Therefore, to the room full of Manhattanites and me it seemed far from clear whether web 2.0 would offer a pay back to Freshdirect, besides offering a desirable customer experience.
Now since those days I have received an essential clue from a subject matter expert that shall be revealed in the next part. That insider information reshaped my recommendation to Freshdirect.
I didn’t just make up my mind on whether they should do it, but more importantly: How and Why.
But more shall not be revealed right now. Until the full version of this discussion appears on CustomerThink.com.
Meanwhile, I’d be curious though: what do you think Freshdirect should do?