Shep Hyken

By Shep Hyken

Is Your Business Changing as Your Customers Change?

Is Your Business Changing as Your Customers Change? 150 150 Shep Hyken

Some e-newsletters are sent weekly. Some are even sent daily, like an email I get from RetailWire.com, a publication that is read each day by thousands of people in the retail industry. This is the number one forum for discussions about issues that are important to their industry. Even though RetailWire.com focuses on the retail industry, many articles are relevant to virtually every business in every industry.

Here is an example: a recent article in RetailWire asked, “Will virtual reality make brick-and-mortar stores less relevant?” Just in case you haven’t experienced virtual reality, allow me to describe the process and the incredible results. After you put on a goggles-like device, you can see the most amazing three dimensional images and videos. Okay, let’s get back to the question. My response is that virtual reality and augmented reality are just enhanced ways of viewing and experiencing products online. That’s all. Sure, they will change the way people shop online, but that’s still “virtual” shopping. It’s not real! For example, you can’t actually touch the material to determine the quality of the suit or dress you’re looking at through a virtual reality headset. You can’t try it on either. So, how could this technology make physical stores less relevant?

Actually, the discussion of physical stores becoming irrelevant is not new but has been a topic of conversation for years. Do you know when the first online purchase was made? Nearly 23 years ago! According to a video produced by Shopify, an online shopping software program, the first online transaction was on August 11, 1994. On that date, a friend bought a Sting CD over the internet through Dan Kohn’s online startup company. Many people claimed though this radical way of doing business would never work. People would never buy online. Well, never say never. Shortly after that CD purchase, Amazon came into being.

How far have we come from there? Research from Adobe claims that last year’s Black Friday’s online sales were over $3 billion. And Cyber Monday’s sales, just three days later, were also over $3 billion. In fact, Forrester predicts that by the year 2020, just three years from now, online sales will exceed $523 billion!

So, should brick-and-mortar retailers be scared? Maybe … if they aren’t willing to change. There have always been companies in virtually every industry that haven’t been willing to change that have found a path to extinction. So, here is the lesson:

Business – in all industries – is changing. The old saying is true: The only thing that is constant is change. So, get used to it.

Will online stores kill physical stores?
Did ATM’s eliminate bank tellers?
Did “Video Kill the Radio Star” when MTV went live back in 1981?

The answers are no, no and no!

Yes, the consumer is migrating to do more shopping online. The result may make a physical store a little less “relevant” – but it certainly won’t make the retailer less relevant! A retailer, as anyone or any company in business, must adjust and change. A retailer won’t become less relevant simply because sales are moving from in-store to online. It will be because the retailer doesn’t adapt to the way their customers want to buy.

It’s the same for every business. Your customers buying habits are changing. Adapt or watch your business die a slow and painful death. To ensure future existence and profitability, you must be willing to change – as your customers change.

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