A Genius Marketing Tactic OR Just a Glitch?

 In Articles, Strategies

Many of us are using online platforms such as eBay, Amazon etc where we are able to reach to wider audience to sell our products. It doesn’t matter what and how we sell I always recommend to have a strategic plan in place that you and your team is able to follow. If you get good reviews on Amazon or within certain period of time you are the one who sells the most products within your category, and you can easily become a ‘Best Seller’ or have your product top ranking amongst thousands. Sounds good, right? I would say sounds promising if you have a good plan.

Here is an example where I am unsure whether it’s a simple glitch and the CEO response is rather week or a genius marketing tactic in the attempt to become a Best Seller.

I came across a product which was advertised on Amazon for £44. However as soon as you added to the basket without adding any promotional code to the basket, the system straight away applied £44 credit to it. That means buying a product at ZERO cost, and only having to pay for the delivery.

Now, if you have Amazon Prime you could get the product to be delivered for free.

And that would mean you buy this product without any charges and get it for free.

Sounds like a good deal, yeah? Especially for bargain hunters who order and quickly resell them on Ebay. Oh, I have seen many of those! You might say that’s easy money, but it’s not that easy if there are another 3000 people doing the same…

In this instance over 10000 people had ordered this particular product. The devices were delivered to these people but following their delivery they received an email from the CEO explaining this glitch didn’t mean to happen…It is not that kind of an email you are expecting to receive.

The CEO goes and explains that they are just a start-up and not “Apple or Philips”. This costs the start-up company £440.000. The CEO kindly asked people to do one of followings:

  1. “you can return it. This way, it won’t sit on your nightstand and pick up dust. And we will offer you a £25 coupon for all our future products”
  2. If you are happy with the product then “it’s not too late to pay £44, using the secured donation platform Go Get Funding.”
  3. “If you just want to keep it without feeling guilty, you can donate £15 (we won’t earn anything, but it will compensate part of our loss) using the secured donation platform Go Get Funding”

For me the above options are raising some concerns.

In option 1 how would you use the product if they have been opened and tried? Would you resell it as brand new? Also, the CEO suggests that the customer wouldn’t use it anyway. Do you think it’s something good to suggest?

Option 2 is a nice try and may be some people do it, but I think not the bargain hunters, otherwise they wouldn’t be bargain hunters, would they?

Option 3 is trying to make the customer feel guilty when in the first place it is not the customer who had generated the problem. Why would you do that? Do you think these customers would come back to you and buy again from you? There is nothing special in this email to make the buyers wanting to go back and buy more products. Also, the Go Fund Page is not necessarily the right platform to recover the cost, would you agree?

And option 3 makes you think that the cost of production is £15 so why ever would you pay £44???

Now people say that this is a great marketing tactic because people start talking about this company and more people are going to look up who this company is. I think if it is the case then these people are going to look up the company for the wrong reasons and not because of what the product delivers.

I believe if it was a genuine mistake the company had many option to mitigate such loss that they described. Although the loss is not necessarily that huge as I am sure the cost of producing the device is much less, and even if you add the Amazon commission it’s very unlikely that they had such a huge loss.

How could have been mitigated?

Surely with all these online selling platforms you receive emails or other notifications if a product is selling. If you are receiving such a huge order, especially if you are a start-up then surely you must look into what’s going on. That is the business’s or seller’s responsibility! I believe several things could have been done before the actual device was sent out to 10000 people:

  1. Cancel the orders – you have the right to do that
  2. Don’t fulfil the orders and again cancel them.
  3. Get in contact with Amazon to try to stop the glitch as soon as possible.

Clearly none of these were done.

Amazon viewpoint:

Several buyers contacted Amazon about the email and what they should do. Amazon stated that the business shouldn’t have sent out such an email in the first place. Secondly the item was on promotion and people shouldn’t send it back.

This makes you believe that it is a marketing tactic. Now the email could have indicated that if you wanted to keep the device then try it for a given time and please leave a good review on Amazon so encourage others to buy it. You can argue whether it is ethical or not, goes against laws and doing business ethically or not, but that’s not the point.

In my viewpoint, I think the company wanted to do a great marketing tactic which was not executed properly. Several mistakes have been done and now it is likely irreversible. You might say that people talking about it and that is marketing as well. Yes, people like me talking about it but not for the right reasons.

This also shows that if you are starting a business make sure one of the investments that you do is investing in yourself and getting a business coach. Lack of planning, understanding and using systems and without the right support you can create such a chaos that results in losing your belief, money and credibility. Is it worth it? I let you to decide!

Orsi B Nagy

Business System Expert and Coach,

Founder of Mega Success Expo


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