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I’ve had it with mandala salesmen.

It’s not the item that bugs me. I’m pro-Mandala. It’s the oh-so arch pricing model that seems to be the exclusive preserve of sellers on Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Etsy. You know the one: “Only £0.50. (Plus £9.50 shipping).” We’re not imbeciles. We can see that’s a tenner. Just ask for a tenner and get on with it.

Shopping occasions

Shopping occasions still apply even if you’re rubbish at retail. At the top tier of the occasions hierarchy, there’s a dichotomy: leisure shopping on one side and survival shopping on the other. We’re affluent but we’re not rich. We want to minimise the percentage of our income spent on survival and maximise that spent on leisure. When you go to Lidl for food and detergent, that’s a survival shopping occasion and price is a value driver. When you go on eBay to buy a vintage toy car, that’s not survival shopping and price is not a value driver.

Value drivers

The leisure shopper values something more than money: she values NOW. If you’re shopping for leisure you’re looking for a buzz and you want that buzz now, not in a week. So time spent trying to lure people with prices that are obviously too low to be profitable is wasted. Don’t even think about it. Spend that time solving NOW.


Outbound logistics is a primary activity in the distance selling value chain. But shipping isn’t optional, so it’s not a value add. It’s like selling a boat trip and adding a buoyancy charge. No. If you’re in the boat business, buoyancy is your licence to do business, not a value add. If you’re selling online, shipping is your licence to do business. Not a value add. Non value-adding things should be included in the price. You can charge extra for value adds. If you shipped in a way that added value, then you could charge.

Argos solved NOW. So far it’s the only online retailer I’ve seen that’s understood. Collect in-store NOW for free or same-day delivery (ie NOW) for £3.95. That’s added value. And it’s cheap. That’s the benchmark, Mandala sellers of the world. Go to it.

Image credit: Dinesh Pratap Singh, CC BY-SA 3.0