Its in the (e)Bag!

I admit that as a consumer, I’m not exactly ravenous. Give me a cool new gadget, and I’ll fork over my last dime.  But for most other stuff, I’ll use the old stand-by until it falls apart, corrodes, wears out or I lose it.  So, it was no surprise to me the other day when I was looking at my ratty old computer bag and realized that it was over 15 years old.  On top of that, it and I had logged over six hundred thousand air miles together to four continents.  In other words, that bag was done.

So, after just having read Groundswell again, the book by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff that made a splash a couple of years back laying out all this social media stuff, I was inspired to put one of the companies referenced there, eBags.com , to the test.  The Groundswell references eBags as a model for ecommerce, crowd sourcing and community interaction to drive sales, repeat business and enable loyal customers.

So is it true?

Absolutely!

So what made this experience outstanding?  

Every ecommerce site worth its salt should do the basics:

  • I was looking for a ‘messenger bag’.  I found a category for messenger bags right on the home page.
  • I had heard of a particular brand I wanted to look for.  I used the search and I got back relevant results

But what sets eBags apart? Bags and luggage are typically a tactile purchase.  I was leery about buying one from a picture.  After all, regardless of how many pix they have of the product, I couldn’t tell if 15.4″ was big enough, if the strap would be too long or short, if the latch would be easy to open and a myriad other feature questions that usually require kicking the tires.  That issue faded fast.  Why?

  • Customer rating – right at the top of the product page “91% of reviewers would buy this again”
  • “Will this bag fit my laptop?”  a measurement guide right there on the product page where I could look up my exact laptop model to determine the fit
  • And finally, the review that clinched it: 
  • “This is a very well-made, durable bag. As is sometimes the case, the price for durability is that the bag is a little on the heavy side. Loaded with a 15 inch laptop, accessories and files, it can be a formidable load. Fortunately, the strap is long enough to function as a cross-body bag, helping to ease the weight. I get many compliments on the earthy/artsy appearance of this bag. Its unique among messenger-style bags and an excellent alternative to the ubiquitous backback for toting ones technology.”

It was as though that was me writing that review.  I could score it and saw the scores of others that found that review valuable. 

These are the things that put eBags in the class of Amazon for ecommerce.  Its not the products.  Its bringing together relevant information and ‘people like me’ that I can learn from and help me feel confident in my decision.  No marketer barking at me.  My peers telling me “hey its all good.  This product will work for you”.  And if it doesn’t, make it absolutely painless to undo.  Check, check and check!

I read a post today with a quote that struck me “people buy experiences.  products are commodities”.  eBags has a keen understanding of this concept, even for products that are typically highly personal and tactile.  they’ve made the experience the reason to keep coming back, not the bag.   

By the way.  Want to see the one I bought?

Comments

  1. Awesome bag! And a great experience story, too! I might very well buy my next bag from them because of this. It'll be a while because I spent a decent amount on my last bag and it's still fairly new. I'm happy with it, but I'm not in love. There are a few small details that you don't really know until you use the bag. Sigh.

    Anyway, I'm really struck by the "people buy experiences" statement. Something very similar to what my brother-in-law (the psychology PhD student) talks about. In fact, I might have to convince him to write a guest post on my blog about it!

  2. That quote stuck with me also. I'm thinking it requires a follow up to examine other companies that focus on the experience, both BtoC and BtoB. In the 'old days' it used to be called the psychology of selling, right? Find out how people buy and try to manipulate them, using that information to buy your product. That concept has evolved for sure. And for the better. Thanks for the comment Sara.

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