Purchase Configuration & How to Differentiate

When we sell to a customer we often ask, “What pain-point am I solving by selling?” Sometimes we are REALLY smart and think of the packaging too. Rarely do we look deeper. But, by doing so, it can reveal some areas for improvement within your business. This is what we call discovering your business’ “purchase configuration.”

What is purchase configuration?

Defining “purchase configuration” isn’t complicated. Essentially, your customer buys a combination of the following:

  • Intangibles: i.e. Corporate image;
  • Pre- and Post-Sales Service: Services provided to your customer both during and after the sale;
  • Packaging: This is what your customers’ see — the appearance of your product or service;
  • Physical Product & Service Sequence: The process a customer goes through to order and receive your product; and
  • Core Benefits for Your Customers: What is the customer really trying to solve by buying your product/service? What pain-points are there, and what issues are they trying to resolve.

How to Stand Out from Your Competition

Considering these factors in your marketing efforts can enhance your core benefits, and, more importantly, each of these factors offer a basis for differentiation; letting you stand out from the competition. Each of the components in your business’ purchase configuration may be enhancing value, or possibly deterring customers — so looking at each piece is important. Take, for example, the purchase configuration for a restaurant:

  • Core Benefits: As customers, perhaps we visit the restaurant because we are hungry or we want to socialize.
  • Physical Product & Service Sequence: In a restaurant, the process starts with speaking to the host or hostess, being seated, then ordering and having your food brought to the table by a server.
  • Packaging: The design and ambiance of the restaurant would be considered the “packaging” here. Plus menu design, layout, decor, uniforms and signage all contribute to the packaging.
  • Pre- & Post-Sales Service: This is the interaction between your employees and your customers. Considerations for a restaurant: Is the waitress friendly? Helpful? … And were they still like this even after receiving the money?, etc.
  • Intangibles: Intangibles are the hardest to manage in purchase configurations, including your restaurant’s image.

Once broken down into smaller parts, it becomes far easier to analyze what your business is doing wrong… and what you’re doing right! Perhaps your waitresses are friendly (Service), the restaurant has a great ambiance (Packaging) and the food is considered good and filling (Core Benefits). But, for some reason, customers are unhappy and your reputation is not strong (Intangibles). Looking at your physical product & service sequence in a chain you may see that orders are sitting in the kitchen for too long before coming to a table. Customers are waiting too long and are therefore becoming unhappy. Without breaking each component of the purchase down, this may have been been more difficult to discover.