The increase in “overall” website traffic in 2014 was unlike any other year before it. Amazon had a 76% increase in traffic and sales with many other larger websites showing 30-40% increases in traffic and sales. How can this be? I thought we were still in the grip of a deep recession with one of the slowest recovery periods in history! An astounding increase in mobile technology added to the explosive figures with the iPhone and iPad and now social media giants like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is changing how all of us shop, communicate and socialize. The pendulum is more like a crazy James Bond contraption the evil villain has strapped our hero to. Only this is different, James always finds a way to escape to save the world – will you?
The tremendous shift to the Internet is very much like a pendulum that has swung past the brick-&-mortar side through the center point and is gaining momentum to the digital side. Years will go by before the pendulum reaches the top and starts back again but, it will come back. History tells us this. However, history has told us many things that were wrong as well.
There’s only one problem you have to ponder as a business owner. No one knows what the business landscape will look like when the pendulum begins to swing back. We can’t see that far into the future. However, there is one thing that’s for certain: the Internet, and all the technology that surrounds it, will change the landscape of just about everything we do and will especially change how your customers interact with you and your business. Just like giant malls changed how we shopped years ago, the digital era is here to stay. Don’t believe me? I want you to sit back and think about the future of your business for a few minutes. What do you see?
“If I would have asked my customers what they wanted they would have told me a faster horse.” ~Henry Ford
Henry Ford was right! He saw the pendulum swinging toward innovation and he knew what technology could do for the world long before his customers did. He wasn’t going to ask them what they wanted, he just gave it to them. The pendulum theory isn’t new. The shift in how we do things has been going on for centuries. Back and forth, back and forth – you just haven’t been aware of it until now. But as a business owner you can feel that things are different, you don’t need me to tell you that. Everything has changed and a new business world is emerging and its exciting. You’re not looking for a faster horse are you? Today’s business owner has to embrace the fact that the old way of doing things is no longer going to work or is rapidly being phased out and the piece of market share pie you once had is no longer the size it used to be.
The only question you have to ask yourself is this – “what am I going to do about it?” Well, for one you have to innovate because innovation drives change. You know you have to change, but how do you do it? What I’ve found interesting over the past six months is that most business owners I’ve spoken with have, for some reason, accepted having a smaller piece of the pie because that’s easier to accept than innovation or changing how they run their business. Seriously? Good luck with that!
Some clients we have already see a big shift happening in their retail businesses and they’re adjusting to it. Some of the brand name designers that they carry are now competing with stores by building their own e-commerce websites. These designers want it both ways but what they don’t realize is that store owners will band together and no longer carry the lines from designers who also compete with them online. Are designers seeing the shift away from stores which would justify the risk of losing the store as a customer? Maybe! More and more wholesale designers in many different industries are adding an e-commerce element to their business model to increase revenue and there are many ways of doing this right without the risk of losing the stores at the wholesale level.
You just have to innovate.