Retailers today are rightly focusing on creating a seamless service across every single consumer touch point. It goes by many clichéd names including omni-channel and multi-channel retail. It’s not easy. There is the obvious part of requiring front ends that delight customers across mobile (with all its various guises and screen sizes), laptops/desktops, stores, brochures and catalogues. On top of that, all the back office systems, databases, warehousing and associated logistics all need to be coordinated; combined with motivating retailer teams to act as one. After all, as Dixons’ CEO Sebastian James said at a suppliers conference last year:
“It’s all just retail now”.
Quite simply, it’s the way that things have to be done to succeed. So let’s take it as a given that those retailers that continue to take cash from our increasingly digital wallets will provide a seamless retail experience.
As a retailer, if you are on your way to achieving “omni-channel” success, maybe you are feeling that it’s time for a congratulatory “pat on the back”. But hold on, you have really only just made it to base camp. The reality is that all you have done is belatedly caught up with your customers and are using the same retail skills, albeit across more touch points. It’s now time to start moving up to that rarified air, where breathing is harder, but the opportunity significant.
How do you get ahead of your consumers and truly lead them?
The answer lies in the data that flows through retailers today. What started as trickle is now rapidly turning into a sustained deluge and yet few retailers are really on top of it.
Here is a snap shot of the data flowing through a typical retailer: sales data (where, when, how much?), consumer usage and behaviour data (which touch points, in what order, where did the consumer come from and go to, how many pages were looked at, how long was spent at each stage?), customer service team data, social media data, consumer generated content, loyalty scheme data. I could go on.
“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”
― John C. Maxwell
I was recently asked to give a talk around the people aspects of start-ups. It’s a slightly daunting topic as there are a lot of clichés around, but it is a hugely important one. Get it right and it will accelerate your business. Get it wrong and it will absorb huge amounts of emotional energy and time, and in the worst case kill your business. I have had the delight of experiencing the former and the scars from picking up the pieces when things don’t go right – that’s all part of the journey of building a business.
You would be forgiven for thinking, from the retail performance headlines earlier in January, that we were in 2005, not 2014. How can it be that a major retailer such as Morrison’s has only just launched their on-line service? The analogy of an ostrich with its head buried in the sand doesn’t feel inappropriate.
The way consumers research, short-list, purchase and then express their post-purchase emotions have rapidly changed over the past decade. Yet it seems some retailers have been either incapacitated by a lack of knowing how to respond or decided that it was best to just keep doing what they have always done. The latter strategy may have got them through the very short term, but only has one ending over the long term and it’s not a pretty one.
Here are five trends that retailers must not only get their heads around but take action on, now. They are not hype, they are real and very obvious.
Many start-ups dream of securing that first really big corporate customer, that market defining account that will prove their business model, increase their credibility and unlock the door to future sales. I have had the privilege of working on both sides of the table – for big businesses, at KPMG and Orange and for start-ups, having founded Reevoo. Here are six practical tips, based on what I have learnt:
1. Breaking through the wall
When you are starting out and your brand is unknown, it can seem like there is an impenetrable wall surrounding any corporate giant. Whats more, even if you do secure a meeting, many individuals within the corporate environment (however successful they are) simply don’t have the experience of dealing with start-ups. They will have a number of fears, many of which are personal: will you actually deliver or will you let them down?; will you negatively impact their career?
To break through the corporate wall and accelerate your business, you need to find a Maverick. Yes, think, Top Gun! Somebody who is naturally an early adopter, entrepreneurial and will make it happen for you, helping you cut through the big business red tape. There are lots out there – my first Maverick was an individual within Dixons Retail.
What I have learnt since, as I look at the various corporates I have worked with, is that as well as looking for the Maverick individual, some big businesses are simply more entrepreneurial than others – hunt them out.
Over the past few weeks the subject of pricing has come up at two businesses I am advising. Both are building enterprise focused Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses, though in very different sectors. Getting SaaS pricing right is not easy.
1. Price on value, not costs
Be completely focused on the value you deliver to your customers. Yes, you should clearly have a good understanding of the costs to deliver your service to build a scalable profitable business, but your pricing must be based on value. You need to understand your customer’s business, the margins they deliver and the internal and external challenges they face. If you are planning to operate across different verticals, those margins and factors will change. Read More
I find myself pulled in two directions. I want both the convenience of buying books on-line and the ability to go and browse (and purchase from) a carefully curated bookstore. But like a petulant child, today I realised I can’t have both.
My favourite bookstore, Village Books in Wandsworth, London, is closing (note that their Dulwich Shop is staying open). Driven by declining footfall, sales are down 27% over 3 years. The owner tells me that book stores in the UK are closing at the rate of one a week. I thought he was exaggerating until I saw this article saying that 73 bookstores closed in the UK in 2012.