Thursday, September 1, 2011

Retail is in a very tough position,

...the toughest it has been for a long time.

Times ‘have’ changed, I believe it is not so much a market shift, but a consumer shift.

The consumer paradigm is now demanding more attention, more access, more loyalty, more knowledge from retailers because the digital age provides them with almost everything whenever they want it.- BUT they still cannot touch it, so retailers still have a unique selling proposition.

With a few quick Google searches, frequenting a few blogs and joining discussions on a few forums I can find out more than the than i used to and seemingly a lot more than average retailer of a product. Product knowledge is a very important aspect for retailers to absorb over the next decade or so.

Last month I was trying to find a product. First I visited a retailer and tried to find it there, with no luck I went online and did find it there, but discovered that the brand was only distributing through Authorized retailers.

So I called the Authorised retailer and asked for them to source the product for me. They had limited idea about what I was talking about and in the end I educated the retailer about the product, the sizing, the colour etc. All of which I had already previously researched online.

2 days later I received a call letting me know that they cannot order my product in for me, as it is not available.

So I could find it online, I just cannot order it online as it is only distributed through Authorised retailers. The authorised dealer who has the license in my part of the world has limited idea about the product and cannot order that product in. With further questioning, there was no justifiable reason for this.

In the end, I gave up and moved on.

Here are some of my thoughts on retailing:
• Educate retailers before you authorise them (or immediately after)
• The digital age means that your customers are more demanding than ever before.
• There is a high likelihood that they might be more knowledgeable than your retailers.
• Invest in education strategy to accompany a sales and marketing strategy
• Your brand is only as memorable as my last touch point with it (I say touch point as I cannot touch it on the internet)
• It makes limited sense to a customer that they cannot order a product because of where they live
• Your customers should not have to work for you, research for you, and create a system to fill in your gaps.
• In the end if you continually fail to connect and engage your prospects will give up and move on.
• …and the digital world will be waiting.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What are you selling...

When you visit a massage therapist and receive a massage it feels great at the time, it’s a combination of the touch, the feel, the attention and the hope that it is actually making you better. It does loosen the muscles and temporally take away the tension and pain. It does not however deliver any long lasting results. From the moment you step down from the table you will put your muscles through the same stress and tension. Most people get a massage once or twice a year.

It applies to all industries...Advertising is like giving your brand a massage, it feels good at the time to see your add on TV, hear it on radio or see it in a big glossy mag. You might get some attention out of it and it may or may not deliver results. Chances are the moment you go to work the next day, you’re delivering the same message and attitude to your clients/consumers and the advertising has had no long lasting results. Most brands advertisers once or twice a year.

The focus should be on retention or diversifying your product offering. Imagine, upon leaving the massage table the masseuse gave you a little talk about how you feeling, what to expect and what to work on during the next fortnight. The following day/week the masseuse gives you a call to see how you are feeling, tells you to drink lots of water (not too much) get lots of sleep and continue stretching. You would feel the attention, and you would refresh your hope that you are actually feeling better.

Same goes for Advertising, you receive a call from the advertising manager, he asks you if you saw/heard your advertisement, how are you feeling, he proposes a strategy to build on, and mentions two or three learning’s that he gathered from other clients advertising with him. The problem is that this doesn’t happen, the speed of business is quick, the thinking shifts to the next client and the new dollars.

A local mariner in Australlia has just over 3,500 members with only 375 berths for boats and yachts. Every month they have a lunch with a guest speaker, twice a year an open day, four times a year a family day. Yes it’s a yacht club, but this isn’t the product they are selling, they are selling the community. Long gone are the days when they were trying to sell yearly (or 5 yearly) memberships to owners of boats, when they are whole heatedly remembered for the community they have built above and beyond the berths.

The secret here is the product you are selling, really isn’t the product you are remembered for at all. You will be remembered for how much you care, your attention, your diverse product offering and integrity. You can’t put a dollar value next to these products but you sure can measure it when your old clients/consumers keep coming back and spreading the word for you.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The modern tour guide continued

In 2009 I wrote a post about the 'The Modern Tour Guide" can read here:

In 2011, just the other week in fact, Google unveiled a Virtual Museum Tour that allows the user to visit over 385 galleries in 17 of the worlds leading museums. The virtual tour will take the user through pictures in up to 14 billion pixels and allow them to navigate their way through the space with 360 degree movement exactly like Google Maps.

So what does this all mean?

it means we now have access to information and experiences (debatable) on demand and at our fingertips, It also means we are nudging closer and closer to a virtual world, that will not require any human interaction to exist in.

I wonder in the decades to come if we will value a student of the Virtual Museum knowledge, or directions from a man that clicked through every google street map in a foreign town.