Why is it that some businesses thrive while others struggle?  Why does a grocery store chain have a cult-like following while another chain files for bankruptcy?  What creates an opportunity for a new entrant to take on long established industry giants?  I think the answer to all of these questions can be found in a simple concept.  The successful companies are able to transform customer transactions into EXPERIENCES.

The headline today in my local newspaper was, “Massive crowds gather, require police control for…”  At first blush, you may expect the rest of the headline to reference a celebrity sighting or perhaps the introduction of the next generation iPhone.  If so, you would be wrong.  Here is the headline in full, “Massive crowds gather, require police control for a grocery store: Wegmans officially opened their doors in Hanover, NJ on Sunday, with a massive crowd already waiting.”  In the last two years, the largest grocery store chain in New Jersey, A & P, filed for bankruptcy, while Wegmans has shoppers waiting in line outside for the store to open.  If you have ever been to a Wegmans, you know why.  Wegmans scrutinizes all of its processes to make sure they are executing all of them as an experience rather than a transaction.  By the way, don’t take my word for it, here is a quote from Jon Springer, who is the retail editor for Supermarket News, “You can’t talk about Wegmans without talking about its emphasis on the experience, on the theatricality of going to the grocery store.  It’s really very different in that respect.”  What he was referring to is the fact that as a Buzzfeed headline reads, “Shopping at Wegmans is essentially a journey through a small, beautifully maintained, self-sustaining city.”  Most supermarkets have the classic fluorescent lighting and generic displays of items arranged in typical aisles.  Wegmans on the other hand looks at the layout of their stores and makes the layout an experience for their customers rather than just a transaction. It is not just the layout of the store that creates a great customer experience either.

Wegmans does not offer home deliveries because it wants its customers to experience its way of doing business. Not only does Wegmans consistently rank as one of the top grocery stores in the country, based on customer service, but also it does everything it can to make sure that its customers never consider shopping at other grocery stores. For example, Wegmans recently introduced its own app, which allows customers to make a shopping list. However, the app also allows other family members to access the list, so everyone can add his or her own items to it. Moreover, customers can scan the bar codes of items in their homes, such as a milk carton about to be thrown away, and those items will be added to customers’ shopping lists. Finally, when customers enter the company’s stores, the app will arrange their lists based on the aisle configuration of the Wegmans they are at. Wegmans has such high loyalty rates because it focuses on creating a better experience rather than on offering lower prices.

My book, “Turn Every Transaction into an Experience,” as well as my 2 Day Sales Class, reveal how dealerships and sales consultants can create loyal customers though the experiential execution of the sales process.