These days – there is a lot of conversation about identity and facial recognition software and the importance of knowing your customer and their preferences. That’s going to continue and accelerate. The other side of that is when your customer wants to be anonymous – the fact that not only you can and should let them – but the amount of money that’s involved with that borders on shocking. It is so shocking in fact, that if you sell direct to customers for anything from clothes to food to electronics – you will not only get a big lift from some purchases – you are likely to also get new customers.
The first, and most vivid, example of this came from Jack-in-the-Box. They installed kiosks in their restaurants to help break up the line at busy times and give customers the option to order without as much pressure from the person behind them in line while they talked with the person at the point-of-sale system. It accomplished that – but what also happened was double the average ticket amount from the kiosk compared with the point-of-sale. Double. After some investigation, it turned out that people ordered the more indulgent items on the menu when they were not facing someone else – someone they probably didn’t even know. And when they got their order – it would simply be presented to them in a bag, so they could walk out with their indulgent anonymity intact.
Something very similar happened when Starbucks started offering their Mobile-Order-and-Pay service. A mocha is a drink whose recipe includes whipped cream – but if you order one, people will usually decline. It turned out that a lot of us decline it less because we don’t want it, but because we don’t want to sound indulgent to the point-of-sale person and the people around us. As Mobile-Order-and-Pay rolled out and people created their orders, not so surprisingly, because there is no face-to-face admission of indulgence, the percentage of people wanting the whipped cream went up significantly. Since whipped cream is already part of the recipe, there was no actual revenue lift there – but there are many other sauces and syrups offered that do cost extra – and Starbucks saw immediate increase in sales in those sauces and syrups.
Now this is obviously not absolute anonymity – this is switching from a face-to-face interaction to a non-face-to-face interaction. But that is where the money is to be made. If you have a product that could be seen as indulgent, or embarrassing for a person to purchase, then there’s a very good chance you are leaving money on the table if you are not offering your customer a way to buy that product in a non-face-to-face way.