By definition, any company that sells a product to an end consumer is a retailer. Most retailers have specialties, whether they sell a single product to a specific audience, or a vast array of products to the general public. What they all have in common is the “machinery” of retail – they’re all trying to discover the most efficient way to get a product in front of a potential buyer. And of course, close the sale.
Borrowed from the real estate world, the traditional mantra for retail success has always been “Location, Location, Location”. Today, however, that “location” has been heavily influenced by a two-decade-long migration to the online world. And believe it or not, one of the earliest retailers to recognize (and act on) this trend was…Domino’s Pizza.
Domino’s eCommerce was an early success in the industry, known for being one of the first companies to offer online ordering — they’re still one of the few restaurants in my area that do. Domino’s eCommerce efforts build on this success by continually rolling out new innovations early and often. They capitalize on what succeeds and quickly discard what fails. But what’s most important is that they have never let their failures stop them from trying new things.
…try new things. All the time. Evaluate them and decide what to keep and what to let go. Do this repeatedly.
Brick-and-mortar retailers that have traditionally thought of the “location” mantra as a physical concept should now be thinking of the online world as their new primary “location”, and use it as a place to find new and innovative ways to attract buyers.
Your online location should also be the quickest and easiest location for your shoppers to access. And since it’s typically easier to try new things online than it is in brick-and-mortar, it should also be the place where you try new things. All the time. Evaluate constantly to determine what stays and what goes. Do this repeatedly. If you don’t, your primary location will lose its luster, and your shoppers will turn to a competitor that hasn’t.
Struggling with what to do next? Focus on three areas:
- Talk to your Customers:Find out why they order and why they don’t. How can you make their lives easier? This is going to be different depending on product and customer segment. For a deeper dive on this, see my prior post where I discuss Jeff Bezos’ viewpoint, “…if the focus is customer service, you’ve already missed the customer experience.”
- Talk to your Technical and User Experience Experts: Even if you’re already taking advantage of every capability your platform has to offer, you’ll never get the most from your eCommerce operation until you leverage your most precious resource, your technical and user experience staff. They have a deep understanding of your business and unique perspective on your customer base. Make sure you’re listening to what they have to say, and more importantly, make sure they know they have a voice.
- Watch your Competitors:If you’ve already pursued the first two items above, you’re most likely already one of “the watched” and not really a “watcher”. But it’s always smart to pay attention to anyone who is trying to reach your customers. Just make sure it’s not your primary focus or you’ll end up looking like a follower to a customer base that is looking for a leader.
Regardless of what kind of retailer you are, remember that innovation can come from anywhere. The key to getting to the top (and staying there) is to make sure that you’re trying new things; never be afraid to fail. Pay attention to everything and everyone; because you never know where you’ll find the inspiration for your next great idea. Who knows, you just might come up with it halfway through a delicious pizza and breadstick combo.