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Create a loyal community, fuelled by personality driven, motivated reasons to join your retail ecosystem. Naturally this brings positive word of mouth and organic growth of your retail community, and leads to sustainable revenue growth. As a retailer, isn't that your number one goal?
Over the last few months, our emphasis has been to have you set up a management plan to prosper in very difficult retail circumstances. We also wanted to be sure you're very resilient in case there's a sudden down-draught!
There are not many good news stories about an uplift in market sentiment, or a surge in buyer demand. Now it's time to take a bold approach, and create something new. Your new 'Retail EcoSystem'.
The idea of a retail 'ecosystem' is a really inspired notion, having surfaced quite recently - over the last couple of years. We've all heard about 'ecosystems' - in these days of environmental responsibility, the term shows up often. An ecosystem can be defined as 'a system, or a group of interconnected elements, formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment.' Easy. Got it?
When first applied to the retail scene, the term 'ecosystem' was restricted to a new generation of electronic retail aids - like this tablet computer built in to a shopping trolley. Huge work was going on in systems to message customers as they moved around the stores, where these messages are based on shopping history and customer preferences.
The notion is clearly built around maximising customer loyalty. Right now, the development of such systems is "steaming ahead" as you read this article. It should strike concern in the hearts of all small retailers, as the bigger players work hard to extend their advantage of scale.
Wiser heads prevail, though, and that provides smaller retailers with a unique opportunity to get ahead. However, things move quickly, and smaller retailers have to take the opportunity as it arises. One day soon, the window will have closed!
These wiser heads recognised that the 'retail ecosystem' extends beyond electronic technology. It encapsulates the whole retail experience - not just those electronically managed facets of it. What this means to you is that you have a retail ecosystem, whether you recognise it or not.
Your key is to have your own retail ecosystem that speaks to the whole shopping experience with your store.To do that, it will have to be a unique ecosystem that speaks only of the shopping experience in your store. It will be different from any other experience.
This might sound a bit familiar. It might sound like, for instance, an old mantra "Live your brand!". It's time to let that one go. The 'retail ecosystem' is a whole world ahead of that notion that's rooted in the 1990's, and is really quite threadbare now.
Instead, the whole idea of the retail ecosystem is not just a mantra like "Live your brand", but a community footprint which includes virtual, digital and physical expressions of your brand. It is a loyal community, fuelled by personality driven, motivated reasons to join this ecosystem. Naturally this brings positive word of mouth and organic growth of the community, and leads to sustainable revenue growth. As a retailer, isn't that your number one goal?
In a larger, agile, organisation, there is scope and time for forward thinking employees to explore notions like this one - the 'retail ecosystem'. In SME organisations, where the business owner is much closer to the 'engine room', there is not the human resource to share ideas in the same kind of way. There is little scope for 'knocking around' an idea to see how it looks from different angles. There is greater conservatism. Perhaps there is greater sense of risk.
More often though, it seems difficult for SME operators to actually 'see' the idea, difficult translate it into a picture of how these new-fangled dreams can actually operate in their business.
(Continued next column)
You need a lot of time to think through ideas like these. Given that there is usually only one or two well trained 'business ed' people on staff, there is very little time to give it much thought at all.
Being unable to bounce around new concepts, and develop a constructive approach to implementing them, is a serious problem for the smaller organisations. Over the next few months we will take a number of small steps in creating an understanding of your "Retail EcoSystem". Of course, we're always 'hands-on' - so we'll help you too.
Smaller organisations, readers of 'Management Memos', will have the opportunity to work this idea up to speed - and level the playing field against the bigger players. Be sure to get the next edition, and all the subsequent parts of this intriguing opportunity. Click to subscribe now.
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From our first look at budgeting this year, back in June, we've had to focus on the dangers in the year ahead. With those budgets now all in place, and our businesses winding up to the Spring 'bounce', it's the perfect time to tackle the subject of long-term growth.
Our topic is way too big for just one edition. Too big for even two editions. We are beginning a journey to re-invent small and medium retail in the face of unprecedented incursions by internationals, and the competitive push-back of local, large-scale retailers.
It will be an intense and interesting ride!
Meanwhile, on a lighter note, we take a look at the rudeness of using smartphones in a meeting ...
There's nothing worse than whipping out your smartphone during a meeting. Few things will turn someone off you quite like a mid-conversation text message, or even a quick glance at your phone. This is more significant for women, and people over 40!
US researchers conducted a nationwide survey of 554 full-time working professionals earning above $30K and working in companies with at least 50 employees. They found:
The more money people make the less they approve of smartphone use.
Why do so many people find smartphone use in meetings to be inappropriate? When you take out your phone it shows:
If reading this article doesn't stop your people using a smartphone in meetings, take a page out of the Old West. Put a basket just inside the conference room door with an image of a smart phone and the message, "Leave your guns at the door."
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Any advice, information or comment contained in this document is general in nature, and should not be relied on as the basis for any specific commercial, business, employment, or financial decision. Specific advice should always be obtained for each individual circumstance. Accordingly any advice, information or comment contained herein is for general guidance only.
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