by Sean Cook
Special to the eTail Blog
With nearly a billion people on Facebook, half of Americans using smartphones, and more everyday shopping moving online, the natural habitat of the retail consumer is drastically different than it was a decade, or even just a few short years ago. Thriving as a retailer in the face of these changes requires an evolving understanding of the entire consumer ecosystem. Darwin said that survival of the fittest is not about strength or numbers but adaptation—the most innovative survive. Here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to move toward the top of the food chain.
Stay ahead of high expectations
This is a great time to be a consumer; it is a world of access and instant gratification. This also means, however, that we all have a very high bar to meet. Your potential customer has certain expectations, such as a seamlessly integrated retail experience following them online and off. Today’s consumers pride themselves on using technology to seek the best deals. If the way that they are shopping is changing, then businesses have to change with them—that’s what adaptability is all about. And when it comes to rising to support these new experiences and expectations, there are always creative solutions available for those willing to take a closer look at their customers. What do they need? What do they expect? Don’t assume that your customer five years ago is your customer today.
Be where the customers are
We already know that consumers migrate. Sometimes you’re the source of migration—you can come up with a product or technology hook that really attracts. But at any given point there is something else driving the next innovations and the next place consumers will be. You don’t know where they’re going. You only know from the endless repeat of history that they will continue to move, to seek out the great new place to congregate, to collaborate, and to buy. The trick is to ensure that you have the flexibility and agility to be where they are.
Don’t be in the technology business
A common line of thought when it comes to integrating new technologies into retail is “my business is so unique that I’m going to build my own.” But often it simply isn’t practical for retailers. You can still stay ahead of customer expectations and migrations without making the mistake of trying to build everything from scratch. Surviving to the next evolutionary stage means understanding the environment and using every resource at your disposal.
Sean Cook is the CEO of ShopVisible, a hosted ecommerce solution for B2B and B2C businesses.