The transaction: a choice of product strategy


“Transactional success” was one of Mona Ataya’s strategic goals when she founded and grew Mumzworld into the largest online baby store in the Middle East.

I heard the story of Mona Ataya while she was interviewed by HBS Professor Ranjay Gulati for his What They Are Made Of podcast series. I thought about the impact of the buyer’s experience of Mumzworld on the company’s success. The quality of buyer engagement with Mumzworld shapes the values ​​it associates with its products and the company.

When I lived in Cambridge, MA, a Dunkin Donuts cafe and a McDonald’s were in adjacent buildings. When I walked into McDonald’s and asked for a cup of coffee, the person at the counter looked at me and asked if I wanted anything else. When I walked into Dunkin Donuts, the counter looked at the counter and shouted, “Next!” There was no personal contact.

I was struck at the time how different customer service was between the two stores selling the same cup of coffee with service employees within three meters of each other. I stopped going to DD for my coffee because I wanted the personal connection I felt buying my coffee at McDonald’s next door.

My previous blog, What do we sell?, looked at the disconnect that occurs when we don’t understand what our customer is buying when they buy our product. I described how McDonald’s was selling Szechuan sauce for its Chicken McNuggets while its teenage customers were buying a sci-fi character dimension experience. Just read the blog!

In the United States, the experience of buying a car from a car dealership has been generally unpleasant. Prior to the recent supply shortages, the price of the car was hidden, necessitating nasty haggling over the price of the new car and the price of your trade-in car. Carvana was founded with the value proposition that pricing would be transparent and there was no need to go to a dealership and deal with a salesperson.

Many bid/ask transactions are based simply on price – a barrel of oil, a ton of wheat, a painting at auction, and many government contracts. The product is considered a commodity, and the seller wants the higher price, or the buyer wants the lower price.

For Mumzworld to succeed, Mona Ataya understood that her potential buyers needed to be persuaded to change the way they, and likely their mothers, shop for baby products. Price would be a consideration, but the buyer experience would be an important part of the value that Mumzworld customers attach to its products – what the customer buys.

You probably don’t sell baby clothes or pacifiers. Nevertheless, what can you learn from Mona Ataya?

Start by asking yourself what role the transaction process plays in your buyer’s buying decision. Building trust and a shared acceptance of the buying process are examples. Also consider the relationship with your buyer after the purchase decision. Important examples are customer support and warranty service.

Carvana and Mumzworld have built their businesses with transactional success as a strategic goal. Carefully consider what your buyer experiences when purchasing your product. What can or should you do to change this experience?

Written by Rick Williams.
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