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The Lines Are Blurring. Have You Checked Your Vision?

It was only in the last two weeks that Facebook announced the launch of their workplace communications platform called Workplace, and I for one am not surprised. Not that I predict Facebook is the next best thing in communication, although having streams of information that include text, video and visuals is much better than sorting through a stream of emails any day.

No, I’m not surprised because of two reasons…

First, Facebook has clearly captured the marketplace when it comes to gaining people’s attention in an insatiable desire to share information, from the necessary (local events, marriages, births, news) to the unnecessary (what I had for breakfast). They are capitalizing on it to the extent possible (at this point in time) and therefore the best opportunity for further growth is of course to enter a new market.

There is something to be learned from what Facebook has done (time will tell the extent to which their move will be successful). You see Mark Zuckerberg and his team recognize that the lines between retail and wholesale are blurring, more and more each day.

I have a client, for example, in the wholesale business looking to put a shopping cart on their website. Why should they miss out on the 10 to 20 points their retailers are placing on their goods, when they are doing a lot of the legwork, and accepting the lion’s share of the risk to source, transport and store their goods?

It strikes me that there are industries that have understood they can service both the retail and wholesale market for decades. Insurance comes to mind, as does investment agencies. So then why, if we know it’s possible, do so many manufacturers and distributors hold back?

Don’t want to upset relationships with existing re-sellers?

Concerned over a lack of available internal skills to sell products or services?

The fixed costs associated with hiring more staff?

From my experience, it’s a concern with all of the above and here’s the kicker. Despite many manufacturers and wholesalers wanting to hold back on selling direct, or concerned about changing their model, the very companies they sell too, the retailers themselves, are continually diversifying the product lines and methods in which they sell, not to grow but to survive. If they are doing it, shouldn’t we?

Let me get to my point.

I’m not suggesting you need to put a shopping cart on your website if you’re a manufacturer (although I would recommend you seriously consider it), or increase the size of your sales force and reduce territory representation if you are a wholesaler (although again I’d recommend you consider it).

What I am suggesting is that if you are FIXATED on doing things they way you’ve always done them, then youve a problem. You simply cannot expect sales and revenue to remain stable (or grow!!) if you keep doing what you’ve always done in a world that has and continues to evolve.

If your objective is to compete, or better yet, dominate in your market, then you must be willing to try new things. There simply is no other way.

This week I’d like you to explore with your team or fellow executives what you might try, even on a micro scale that can support your growth objectives. Do something different and if it fails, celebrate the fact that you tried something new and learned from it.

Then again, you can just sit back and wait for the world to change back to how it once was… I’m sure that will happen soon…

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