Five questions to direct an ecommerce strategy

Who is the customer?

Start with the customer. Whether you have well defined personas or use See, Think, Do, Care to understand your total addressable market, understanding who is your customer is always the first question to answer. Not even Amazon can sell anything to anyone.

What do they want that you can give them?

What products are those customers looking for? What products do you have or want to develop? Some products are essentials, some more desirables. Some products are bought every day for a lower price, some are bought once in a life time at a high price. There is no gain in trying to provide something that those customers don’t want.

Where do they go to get it?

People looking for a brand-new top-of-the-range Ferrari don’t look on eBay, they go to showrooms. People looking for a sandwich go to their local supermarket or sandwich shop, they don’t go to a builders merchant. Customer’s already have assumptions and expectations about what they can get where. Are you going to go where the customers are or try to disrupt that and take somewhere else?

Why would they want to get it from you?

What’s your USP, what differentiates you from your competitors, what is going to make those customers come to you rather than go somewhere else? Is it your superior quality products, is it your customer service, is it the image a customer creates when using your products?

When can you give it to them?

Do you have existing products they can get now, or do you need to develop something? Are you going to provide an MVP in one month or a finished thing in two years?

Understanding customers for car washes

A Car Wash becomes successful by converting one-time customers into repeat customers who come back regularly. Cars continually get dirty but getting people to become your repeat customers rather than your competitors is the challenge. If you were in the business of washing cars there are a few things you might want to understand about your customers:

  • Buyer behaviour is closely linked with the value of the car so that is how you should segment your customers
  • People with more expensive cars are more likely to get their car washed than people with cheaper cars.
  • This is either because people with more expensive cars value their car more highly and so want to take better care of it, or/and people with more expensive cars associate positive self-image with having a clean car, or/and people with more expensive cars have more money to spend on non-essentials like car washes.
  • If it’s a question of how people equate the value of an object with how much time, money and effort to spend on looking after that object, then offering extra special service with more options/benefits reserved for people with more expensive cars would be a good way to keep them coming back.
  • If your customers are getting their cars washed because it fulfils some emotional need to be seen in a positive light (by driving an expensive and clean car) then offering something like a regularly booked timeslot where they were expected and greeted personally would help to fulfil those emotional needs.
  • If you wanted to expand into the lower value car market you would have to offer a reduced price service and clearly demonstrate the benefits of having a clean car.
  • If you compete with other car washes solely on price you are misunderstanding what motivates your customers and what problem you are solving for them, and you are undermining your profitability.
  • Differentiating yourself in tailored service that closely matches the needs of each customer segment would be a more successful strategy.

Bucks Mind Strategy Planning


Board of Trustees, CEO, Senior Management Team, and Staff Team all working towards to develop the strategic direction for the charity. The challenge now is to distill the aspirations down to achievables, set targets, and create an implementation plan. Lots more work to do.