Maybe it’s time to pay attention to the ‘buzz’ and set a new course.
The year 2017 is shaping up to be the year of the buzzword in grocery. We hear them seemingly everywhere. Click & Collect, Omnichannel, Unified CommerceOptimization, Millennials (ugh, those guys..), Digital Supply Chain, IoT (that’s internet-of-things for those not up to speed), Brick and Click, the oh-so-ominous “Cloud” (where is this thing anyway?)… the list goes on.
Buzzwords are good at one thing: annoying all of us. But maybe we’re annoyed because they’re often used by technology vendors to confuse, more than educate. The problem with buzzwords is that they are usually poor descriptors but, in many cases, good predictors of upcoming change. They are a (not-so-subtle) reminder that our industry, customers, and competitors are beginning to adopt a new way of thinking (Remember the first time you heard the term smart phone?).
Sure, buzzwords are annoying, but the facts we can’t ignore are:
- Emerging competitors (Amazon, Blue Apron, etc) are using technology to make it extremely easy for your customers to do business with them – think one-click shopping
- The world is moving fast – e-commerce grew another 15% in 2016 and the majority of your customer base now shops online at least once a month
- The most demanding, technology-driven generation of shoppers are about to hit their biggest lifetime spending period
Those who don’t put technology innovation at the forefront of their customer experience, will be left behind by those who do (see point #1)
Are you on a Blockbuster
or an Amazon path?
My questions to you are these:
- What kind of business are you really in?
- Have you boxed your business into a corner, that would allow it to stagnate into non-existence?
- Are you in the business that focuses on your customers’ real needs?
Blockbuster (founded in 1985) thought they were in the “VHS/DVD rental business”, instead of the business of making it extremely easy for their customers to watch movies at home. It’s sounds like a small difference but one business is a dead end, the other is an eternal fountain of opportunity.
This means your business model must shift to answering the “how” “when and “where”, no matter what direction that takes you in.
In stark contrast, Amazon is quick to adapt new technologies… even leading the way by creating new buzzwords as it goes. For example, the entire grocery industry was shaken up by Amazon’s recent advances in the self-checkout experience with its announcement of the Amazon Go concept store. A week later, Amazon completed its first home delivery by drone.
Could the company do this without embracing what their real business is and implementing new technologies around industry buzzwords mentioned before like “Click & Collect,” “omnichannel,” and “home delivery” – even more universal buzzwords like “smartphones” and “cloud” (which they practically invented, see AWS)?
If you think about it, at its most basic form, you’re in the business of selling food products, regardless of how your customers want to purchase them. This means your business model must shift to answering the “how” “when and “where”, no matter what direction that takes you in. That might mean perfecting home delivery (or drone delivery!), or simply finding new ways to enhance the customer’s in-store visit.
Do Your Work Now…
Starting a new year is a chance to evaluate what business you’re truly in. Do your research, explore your options, and decide where you stand. Know your core business and your core customer, and follow that trail, wherever it takes you.
If you follow that trail in 2017, you’ll plant the seeds that:
- make shopping at your store locations as easy as cutting butter with a hot knife,
- eliminate any excuse for your customers to buy from someone else, and
- leave the rest of your competition in the dust.
So don’t get beat down by the buzzwords, focus instead on the business you’re in and look for the real solutions that allow you to perform that business better than anyone else.
What about me?
I’m in the business of making retail grocers steamroller competitive and the consumers who shop at their stores, and online, delighted with their experience. I will follow that path no matter what direction it takes me, you can count on it!
- US Census – http://www.census.gov/retail/mrts/www/data/pdf/ec_current.pd
- Mintel – http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/technology-press-centre/nearly-70-of-americans-shop-online-regularly-with-close-to-50-taking-advantage-of-free-shipping