A new way of doing business

[This is an extract from the ReadThinkLearnLaugh Newsletter Archive.]

It's a buzz: S-Commerce and you have heard about it, right?

It's not just eCommerce or internet retailing; it is now about social commerce. (Meaning it's all happening at the social networks - probably Facebook if you want to be realistic.)

The so-called gurus are mostly talking rubbish, to be straightforward. They claim that:

  • Internet shopping is growing at such a rate that traditional retail will be redundant soon
  • Customers can always find the lowest price on the net, and they are now trained to look for the lowest price
  • There is no way a traditional store can compete
  • The market is changing and it is irrevocable
  • Traditional media is not effective at reaching new customers.
  • Customers do not want to be interrupted, they now want to be treated with respect, and you must be prepared to have a conversation with them.

There is more, but when I have explained these, you will get the point.

Internet shopping is growing at such a rate that traditional retail will be redundant soon

ECommerce makes up about 4% of total retail sales.

The internet is changing the way we are shopping, but not THAT we shop. As long as people still buy stuff, retailers can come up with a strategy to succeed.

Customers can always find the lowest price on the net, and they are now trained to look for the lowest price

Customers have always (and still do) want to get value for money. Nobody has ever wanted to be ripped off. The internet makes it easier, sure, but it does not change the fundamentals. If you have not figured out how to provide value for money, then you should. But it is not new; maybe just a bit more urgent.

There is no way a traditional store can compete

Of course they would say that. They want your money.

The market is changing and it is irrevocable

What's new? Change is the only constant as the cliche goes.

Traditional media is not effective at reaching new customers.

When was the last time YOU clicked on a Facebook Ad - or even on Google Adwords?

  • 99.9% of people who are served an online display ad do not click on it.
  • TV viewership is now at its highest point ever

Customers do not want to be interrupted, they now want to be treated with respect, and you must be prepared to have a conversation with them.

Hey, next they will tell us customers are people with real feelings. Whoopeedoo. They mean that the conversation you must have with the customers should happen via whatever channel (read website) they happen to masters of.

SO what to do?
Don't get me wrong. I am not a Luddite.

I was on Twitter Feb 2009 - 2 years ago, and on Facebook July 2007. (How does that compare with your resident guru?)

As a centre manager in 1999, I argued that we should be planning our retail mix to assume that Sanity won't be around. (Sanity being a chain of music stores for international readers.)

I launched my first internet start-up in 1997, an online tool allowing brokers to market office space when realestate.com.au was a twinkle in someone's eye.

I am currently involved in another internet start-up with a friend and colleague who, if you don't use his services, you should.

I say this so that you will believe what I tell you.

The internet is just technology. We change behaviours to adapt to it. (Just like video technology changes how meetings are held.)

But it does not change the fundamental needs or attributes of humans. It does not change what people value.

The rules of a successful commercial enterprise are not different.

Just like we had to learn to accept EFTPOS at the cash desk, we have to learn about all the new channels and technologies. But the rules are no different, even if the technology is.

We still have to go to where our customers are. You still have to be respectful, you still have to add value, you still have to figure out what the customers want and provide that at a profit.

NO CHANGE.

So there is nothing to fear.

Don't get left behind as technology is being introduced - make time to experiment and try a few things.

Here are three sites you can try.

  • SHOPTAB starting from $10 per month
  • STORENVY which is free
  • PAYVMENT - apparently the hottest start-up in this space, also free

I am NOT offering my services to help you with this. You don't need help. You don't need a guru/consultant.

What you do need is a kick up the arse to just go and do it.