Who’s The Customer? Who’s The Product? It’s All About The Benjamins

April 19, 2024

who's the customer ?

The next time you buy something from … anyone, Rent A Dad wants you to ask yourself a question: Who’s The Customer?

It’s a genuinely interesting question. If you buy something (let’s ignore the many meanings of the word “buy” in the digital era), then obviously you “are” a customer—if not also a product being sold to every data-gathering organization that asks. But go a step further. Imagine, for example, that you’re a service provider relying on a company like Anji or Thumbtack to provide you with leads. Then YOU’RE the customer. Or at least you’re also another customer. Who’s the customer, indeed.

Here’s an example:

One of the ways Reant A Dad finds new customers for the part of our business that generates revenue is via a partnership with TaskRabbit. The question is, does TaskRabbit look at Rent A Dad as a customer? Any time you book us through them they take approximately 40% of the revenue we generate.Without Rent-A-Dad would make less money. But do they believe we deserve the reverence that all customers do? Is “Customer Service” a thing that gets thrown into the mix in our relationship?

The answer is “maybe”; there are SO many variables at play here that a single answer to our blithe little “who’s the customer?” question is impossible. Others might provide TaskRabbit with similar services, but we’re by far TaskRabbit’s most prolific technology consulting practice, charging a fee at the high end of the spectrum, with a reputation that says we’re worth it. Who wins here? It’s all about business equations.

So Who’s The Customer?

Recently, Dad came across this article, sourced from The Wall Street Journal(paywall). The gist? Customers are cheating sellers on Amazon by “returning products”, but what they’re returning is garbage rather than the actual items they’d purchased. And if you believe the article, the purchasers are getting away with this fraud, while the sellers are  … well, screwed.

Once again, there are a ton of variables. People who buy things are completely necessary to a company like Amazon. So’s inventory, but Amazon’s position is so dominant that if Vendor A disappears—either from Amazon or altogether—Vendor B will step in, generally at a higher price that, you guessed it, makes Amazon more money on the transaction, anyway. To Amazon, Vendor A is expendable.

Vendor A doesn’t like that. Nor should they. The question is how they can combat the issue. The answer? Find a way to be the customer.

But that’s the story. If you aren’t at the top of the food chain, you’re the food.

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