Transaction v Relationship

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By Published On: June 15, 20210 Comments

Regardless of whether you operate a traditional brick and mortar store alongside an e-commerce store or are just operating an e-commerce business, the landscape is changing and you have a choice to make.

Are you transaction-focused or relationship-focused? The path you choose is crucial. 

On the one hand, transactions are easy and can be made quickly. It’s pretty simple to sell someone something once or twice from your store. If that’s all you do, you’re a transaction company. 

When transactions are the focus, you want to get the customer in, sell to them, and get them out as quickly and cheaply as possible. Many an e-commerce store was founded on this notion of serving customers at the lowest cost per transaction possible. 

The first problem with this is you are always on the customer acquisition hunt – the most expensive sale is to a new customer. The second problem with a transaction focus is that you can find yourself competing on price as the only differentiator between you and your competitors. 

However, a better way is to be a relationship-focused store that focuses on building relationships and creating value. This generates repeat and referral business. 

There are a number of ways an e-commerce business can create relationships with customers and it starts with answering these questions: 

  1. How can I make it easier for the customer to trust choosing and buying our product or service? 
  2. How can I make the customer’s use of our product or service more enjoyable?
  3.  How can I engage with the customer post-purchase to ensure they are realising the full benefits of the product/service? 

If you focus on consistently executing the solution to the above questions, you will create a relationship with your customers that generates trust in your brand and positive word of mouth. 

The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that over 80 percent of consumers state that they need to be able to trust a brand to do business with them. Helping customers build confidence in their consideration phase is a key to the development of trust. 

Trust is also why personal recommendations are so powerful. Nielsen research found that over 90 percent of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising. In a world where we can easily fact-check other people’s claims, personal recommendations remain the most powerful tool for convincing consumers. is an excellent example of a company that makes it easy for customers to trust the choice in the product they are buying. From informative online videos, customer-based sizing reviews and a 365-day free return policy they obsess about making it easy for customers to trust them and the choice they are making. 

Koala Furniture really understands the importance of making it easy for a customer to use and enjoy their product. For example, prior to delivery of your Koala Furniture product, you will receive an engaging video with easy to follow instructions. A clever way to get the consumers attention prior to the unboxing to help improve the individuals experience during unboxing, setup and initial use. 

Volkswagen Australia is another excellent example of how a brand can continue to engage with consumers post-purchase by providing new vehicle owners with regular communication about how various features in their car work, handy tips and great adventures they can enjoy in their vehicle. 

Zappos, Koala and Volkswagen are all demonstrating that they are looking beyond the transaction to that of building relationships. 

With the case for being a relationship-focused e-commerce business being strong, the challenge remains on actually delivering on the promise of being more than a transaction business. 

It starts by acknowledging that a relationship-focused business is not as simple as having a fancy looking logo on your website or plastering it with the words ‘we care’. Being relationship focused is about focusing on delivering a consistent customer experience, one that is focused on ensuring the customer achieves success, effortlessly and while feeling valued. 

So I challenge you to take action right now, look at your last 90 days of customer feedback. Identify the top three pain points and start fixing them, focus on improving by just one percent in those three areas every day for the next 90 days and see your customer satisfaction and recommendation grow.

Jason S Bradshaw is a leading thought leader on Customer & Employee Experience and one of 30 Global Gurus on Customer Service. He helps organisations transform and accelerate growth through an intentional focus on experience management.

Online Retailer Conference & Expo is the #1 meeting destination for the ecommerce industry. Jason Bradshaw will be speaking at Online Retailer, where he will discuss Staying one percent ahead of the curve: How can we find new ways to be successful?

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Heather Bone