Next week I will be in Lisbon talking to a couple of hundred employees, partners and guests of Sonae, a multi-billion dollar corporation with roots in retailing and telecommunications. A highly innovative company, Sonae puts on its “FINCA” conference once a year, and I will be on stage with my old friend, the “Futurist” and author Gerd Leonhard. But first, I was asked to answer a list of questions for Sonae’s corporate magazine, and here is what I said in reply:
Are retailers prepared/able to embrace the latest technologies (like Google glass, e.g., adopt an all new approach in terms of retail/stock levels)?
Retailers would be wise to embrace the new technologies instead of ignoring or actively resisting them as many do today. In the networked economy, it is the customer alone who decides which channel and/or technology to use. If retailers do not offer their customers the full range of choices, then a certain number will simply take their business elsewhere. And customers are becoming more demanding every day. Amazon is being forced to invest in same-day delivery, not because they want to, but because customers demand it. The Internet is rapidly making the old supply-driven business model obsolete. Today, it’s all about customer empowerment.
Which are the main errors retailer make (or companies in general) when dealing with the customer 2.0? And which are the best practices?
Many retailers have adapted too slowly to the fundamental market changes brought about by digital technology. Retail today must be personal, authentic and open. Markets are conversations, as my friend Doc Searls wrote in the “Cluetrain Manifesto”. But many retailer are unable or unwilling to engage in a dialog of equals with their customers. Instead they still think that they control the message and can simply broadcast one to many like in the good old days. They don’t realize that the flow of information has turned completely around. Marketing communications and marketing departments have to function as inbound channels through which information about customers can be routed to R&D, Production and Sales Departments where they can be turned into products uniquely tailored to the wishes and needs of individual customers. “One-size-fits-all” doesn’t work any more. (mehr …)