Sam Benton discusses bright ideas, especially from the new kids on the block in online shopping, and the challenges they present to Catalogue and Home Shopping retailers, and explores the opportunities that their online presence offers to both themselves as retailers, and to all of us as consumers.
Copyright (c) 2007 Sam Benton
Ever had a great idea?
Of course you have. Can anyone have a great idea? Of course they can. Can those ideas be profitable? Clearly this is also possible, although profitable ideas rely on many factors before they earn that title. Profitable ideas that turn into successful businesses however, depend on many contributing factors such as great products, great quality, great prices, great timing and ultimately, old fashioned good luck. But without doubt, the number one contributing factor in turning a great idea into a profitable idea is: Customers.
Without customers you have no business, it’s that simple
Don’t be fooled though, because even businesses with customers aren’t guaranteed profit or success. So, taking this idea a step further, a successful business requires happy, satisfied, and for continued success, repeat customers. The key is satisfied customers. As the song goes, “you’ve got to keep the customers satisfied”
Any company that doesn’t keep its customers satisfied is going to struggle, and this fact has never been more relevant than in online or internet retailing.
Retail businesses of yesteryear have the same demands placed upon them today as they had when they were first established, whether they’re fifteen or fifty years old. They still have to fend off competition, they have to stay fresh, they have to predict exactly what the customer wants or needs and they have stay on their toes in terms of trends and fashions. Clearly this is always going to be a tall order for any business and history is littered with casualties to prove the rule.
In retailing terms, the long established Catalogue and Home Shopping companies have been very well run operations, and for many this still holds true today. The challenge for these long established companies though, is in their ability to adapt to the demands of a very different retailing environment. Today’s customers still have the same demands, but they now have a huge choice laid out before them.
In today’s marketplace, a great idea can be turned into a very profitable business in a matter of weeks thanks to the internet. A very astute retailer can establish an online presence and customer awareness in a matter of months, where the same presence and awareness would once have taken years prior to the existence of the internet.
The ace up the sleeve for Catalogue and Home Shopping retailers is that they already have infrastructures in place to support their businesses. They already have impressive purchasing power as well as warehousing and delivery networks and they already have attractive credit facilities. These are huge costs to absorb if you don’t have them, but great assets if they exist.
Sure, Catalogue and Home Shopping companies may have arrived a little late on the online scene and maybe they don’t have the glamour or buzz that surrounds some of the really big internet only retailers, but make no mistake, the really switched on Catalogue and Home Shopping retailers who do establish a credible online presence can look forward to unparalleled growth. They simply need to build on their hard earned strengths.
Highlighting the challenges for Catalogue and Home Shopping companies is all well and good, and I’m sure they’re aware of the challenges themselves, but what does it all mean to you and me?
Well for one thing, the internet has given long established retailers a well deserved kick up the backside. They now have to come up with bright ideas at a pace that they never thought possible. They now have to innovate at the same pace or faster as their internet only counterparts. In short they have to re-invent and re-present themselves to a whole new online audience to stay in the game.
As a customer, I want to see as much competition as possible both online and off, because competition will undoubtedly result in brighter ideas, greater innovation, better offers, more choice and better service. As great ideas go, the internet is a tough one to beat. Long live the great idea.
As always, Happy shopping.
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