Articles for Retailers - by Tom Shay


 The Answer is Relevancy

      by Tom Shay

If only more businesses knew the question.

Soon after starting Amazon with a focus on selling books, founder Jeff Bezos said his company could never replace the experience a person could have in a local book store. The experience would include sitting in a comfortable chair, smelling and touching the pages of a new book and enjoying a cup of coffee as they “experience the book”.

And yet recently the CEO of a company that says they are number one in customer engagement, made a strong assertion against many businesses based on a similar “experience”.

This person mentioned Amazon, Netflix, Uber, Apple, and Airbnb as being “shift changers” within their respective fields.  The claim was that none of companies killed their competition; the competition did it to themselves with poor customer service and the rules they imposed on their customers. “Being non-customer centric is the biggest threat to any business”, was the essence of the comments.

So, “What allows businesses to come into a marketplace and shift the dynamics of how business is done?”

The answer is that the existing business have failed to see the shifts in how customers want to interact with them. And yes, some of this can be demonstrated by businesses that are not customer centric.

I wonder why the office supply where I have ordered the same wall calendar for the last twenty years waits for me to call and order the calendar for the next year.

I wonder why the local florist waits for me to call to place an order for Valentine’s, birthdays and anniversaries. Both of these businesses allow me to easily do business elsewhere because of their lack of remaining customer centric and relevant to me, their existing customer.

The answer is “relevancy”. The question is, “What do I do so that my business continues to exist as well as being profitable?”

When looking to change or update a business - so you do not become the next Blockbuster Video - consider what it will cost to make changes. At the same time, think not so much about what it is going to cost you to change, but what is it going to cost you if don’t       change.

Where do we find this “relevancy” or ideas for change? Sam Walton suggested looking at the businesses around you to see where everyone is doing things one way. There’s a good chance you can find your niche by going exactly in the opposite direction.




Tom Shay is a fourth-generation small business owner, author, columnist, coach and speaker who has authored several training manuals for retailers that can be found in the Resources section of the NAMTA website – namta.org. His knowledge of small business marketing, business strategy, staffing, and financial management have provided small business owners with the help necessary to increase their profits plus build their business for the future. You can learn more here - www.profitsplus.org.