Why Can't We Get It Right?

25 November 2003

In a fit of something-or-other I posted a rant yesterday. A book titled Unprepared To Do Business has been in my subconscious for ten or fifteen years now. My experiences trying to talk to the so-called business improvement experts has helped me write no less than three or four more chapters.

Then, this morning I read Robert Scoble’s terrific essay about the retailing of computers, IKEA and how customers really think. It reminds me of the early to mid-1990’s when I was working with pcorder.com (now merged into Trilogy). The goal was to create a sales tool for salespeople who were doing consultative sales with prospects on configured items. From there the goal was to provide a kiosk-like front-end that would prompt the customer through the consultative process.

This whole drill went as far as to determine how quoted products could be compared to sold products at a multi-vendor distributor. From those comparisons, the manufacturers and the distributor could begin to extract demand forecasts. In a world where product allocations were common, the information would have been more valuable than the products sold; at least for a period of time.

Why can’t the sale of all technology be more like the experience at IKEA or an Apple Store? Why can’t a retailer provide a broader selection of products than those selected by the purchasing agent? Why can’t there be an effective answer to the question about differences between $1300 and $3000 laptops?

By the way, how much better is a $3000 laptop than a $1300 one? Anxious

* * * UPDATE * * * Robert took the time to address the questions about features, functions and benefits in the pricier laptop computers, even though they were somewhat rhetorical. During the height of the PC distribution industry (circa 1980-1995) I owned one of the PC distribution franchises and later served in an executive capacity with one of the major franchisors. Robert’s advice is right on the mark.

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