The world is changing and changing fast. Consumers are changing and changing fast. Are you and your business changing, or are you still doing things the same old way and getting the same old results?
It’s easy, especially if your business is in a small town and doesn’t sell much beyond its borders, to get into a business rut where you expect everything will pretty much stay the same as it always has; customers will come and customers will go but you’ll survive.
Online stores, social media, smartphones and a wealth of new technology may not have affected your business a great deal yet, but make no mistake it will and soon.
Why? Because we live in a world of total availability and abundance – whatever we want we can find online and have it delivered to our door. We also live in a world where we can always discover the best price. If we decide to pay more it’s because we see some value in doing so, be that convenience, better quality, superior service, or simply we like the company and the people we deal with. Shop local, buy local, the 100-mile diet are all still important to consumers but not quite as much as they used to be.
Experiences are becoming increasingly important, as is ease of purchase – Amazon knows this and is planning to open a new bricks and mortar store called Amazon Go early next year in Seattle. So what? Well this store will have no check-outs; customers will simply wander around the store putting items into their own bags and walk out. Just like that! How does it work? First they will have to have the Amazon Go app on their phone, which they scan as they enter the store. Once there, shoppers pick items off the shelf and the item is added to their ‘cart’ automatically. If they decide they don’t want an item after all and put it back it is removed from their ‘cart’. As they leave the store the app charges their credit card with all their purchases. No line-ups, no waiting, simple.
The important thing for small business owners is that this is an indication of where the retail world is going and knowing this and other new ways of retailing, manufacturing, warehousing and servicing will help you survive. Watch how successful, or not, Amazon Go is and it will tell you a lot about consumers and the future of retail.
Consumers are getting tired of seeing ads on their Facebook page for things they searched online for earlier in the day. Yes, it’s cool that Apple Music can send them playlists based on their likes and dislikes, but only to a point. When it becomes intrusive it turns consumers off. As a small business you need to find a way that you can provide personal service without invading your customers’ privacy.
In Peru, San Juan beer has historically featured an Otorongo jaguar on its label. To support this endangered species, of which there are only 6,000 left in the country, the company removed the image of the animal from 6,000 bottles of its beer during a major festival and replaced it with a cow, a pig, a dog, or a rooster. Consumers were outraged by the disappearance of the jaguar on their favourite beer and took to the streets to protest its disappearance both on the label of their beer and in its natural habitat, forcing the government to take action to protect the animal.
It’s no longer good enough to recycle – consumers assume you are sustainable to at least some extent. Today it’s about contributing, being a positive source of change. In your small business how can you contribute directly to the well-being of the planet and its people?
Smartphones are omnipresent, consumers are looking for the next wave of technology that will make their lives easy, save them time, give them a better experience. Anyway you can make buying from you easier will make your customers happier and more loyal. Remember, there’s always an app for that! What’s yours?
Too Much Choice
As we said earlier we live in a world of abundance, there is too much choice. Allow your customers to experience what you sell in some way. Educate them, make it meaningful, incorporate an experience and allow them to tailor what you sell to their specific needs.
This article is provided by Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen. Questions about your business? Contact their office at 250-493-2566.