The Transition: Getting Involved
Change isn't just coming - it's here, ready or not.
I've established repeatedly that the customer's buying habits have changed, and she's shopping online with a voracity that we've never seen before. Accepting this fact and using it as a strategic advantage toward the success of your business is the critical next step. This step requires manufacturers to bring their products online in large scale - something retailers must demand and support.
But manufacturing executives and marketing types can't just passively preside over that transition online. They can't just hire a Webmaster or young marketing team who will drive their products into online commerce. Business owners in retail and manufacturing must become intimately involved with the transition if they are to succeed in the new reality of commerce.
Your involvement as a business owner requires some work, but it's far from impossible. I've outlined some steps you can take to capture this durable advantage:
1. Educate Yourself: Since the changes we're seeing are happening so rapidly (due to the immediacy of information available on the Internet), it can be a struggle to keep up with the latest developments. Here is a reading list of blogs to follow and books to read that will kick start your knowledge:
a. Internet Retailer
b. E-Commerce Times
c. Retailer Now Magazine
d. Retail Minded Blog
e. Retail Tech Blog
f. "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" by David Meerman Scott
g. "The Longtail: Why The Future of Business is Selling Less of More" by Chris Anderson
h. "We are All Weird" by Seth Godin
2. Facilitate Change: It's time to get the ball rolling. As business owners, we are all responsible to lead the charge when it comes to implementing changes in our companies. Facilitate those changes by taking on a new mindset - old ways and processes are no longer viable in this new marketplace, so you'll need to understand and smooth the way with the implementation of technology and new practices.
3. Protect the Fundamentals: Even through a major move online, as you tailor your message and content for an e-commerce model, your fundamental principles and practices need to remain safely intact. Don't compromise your brand by partnering with sub-standard online retailing platforms or manufacturers who tolerate the damaging behaviors of these sites. Safeguard the key things that have brought your company this far, whether that's service, quality, creativity, customer trust, all four, or something else!
Change is never easy. However, I have no doubts that if retail business owners and leaders can work intimately with their manufacturers, guiding them through these changing times with a dedication toward growth, their businesses can survive. If these owners can make educated decisions, have an open mindset to new ideas and technology, and maintain security of their business' integrity, our industry will see a tremendous transition to success and future stability.