Keeping Up With The Customer
In recent years there have been quantum changes in the ways that customers shop and interact with brands. Many companies have been on the leading edge of those changes -- in some cases driving it. Examples include Amazon and Ebay, which have always been suited to the mobile and tablet shopping environments as a result of their online lineage.
Their impact in the retail industry has been felt worldwide with their exceptional reach and cost advantage allowing them to compete with traditional retailers in distant countries like Australia -- without moving their operations from the U.S. Their core competencies align to those online platforms -- and they are meeting the challenge of facilitating buying decisions -- on new platforms and in new ways -- to suit the changing habits of consumers.
Case in point: eBay's new Watch with eBay tablet app. (see the news item)
Keeping the Customer Front and Center
We've noticed a consistent common trait among more traditional businesses -- they tend to see change as gradual, as it always has been in the offline (brick and mortar) world. Many of these businesses have forayed into online commerce -- but in a fairly controlled (and sometimes limited) way.
More often than not, their online business model mirrored their offline model -- without a significant retooling for a new medium. But now, change is no longer gradual -- in many cases, there is an almost shock therapy like change -- much like that faced by Blockbuster and the video rental industry.
With all the change happening around your business, how do you decide which things to react to?
Keeping the customer at the center of your thinking, the key step is deciding between passing fads / gimmicks and truly meaningful gains in customer experience that new technologies are providing. The latter should be one of the driving forces behind any company's innovation plans -- and in transitioning to a stronger commitment with its mobile and online strategy.
The challenge is not an easy one -- as eBay's competitors figure out how win a battle which they are starting to fight well after eBay does.