I was out shopping over the weekend and wanted to try on a pair of boots at a department store. This involved 15 minutes of waiting for a clerk to go check in the back room, only to tell me that they were out of my size.
Why do department stores still insist on keeping their shoes in the back room? Yes, it makes for a prettier display, but the lost customer convenience is a high price to pay for aesthetics.
Except for food items and prescriptions, almost all products are accessible directly to the consumer. Candy is no longer behind the counter in big glass jars. Eyeglasses are available through the mail. Electronics are sold through vending machines. Many remedies are sold over the counter.
You can conduct your bank transactions with a machine instead of a teller. You can use a self-checkout instead of the cashier. You can order your meal from the counter instead of through a waitress. You pump your own gas and clean your own windshield.
But you need an intermediary to try on a pair of shoes.
The clerk in the shoe department had zero value added after he told me they were out of my size. If they had shoes that fit, he would have handed me the box and I would have tried them on myself. Long gone are the days of the measured fittings and shoe horns.
Think about what you are keeping in your metaphorical back room. Is your process a vestige of a past when information was shared with only a few instead of on the internet? Do you have human intervention in a process that does not contribute to its value? Could you provide something more directly to your customers?
Let your clients easily find out if your shoe fits them.