After over a decade of our shopping malls being “over-jewelered” to the point where competition was fierce and profits slim, the tables have finally turned.
The past two years of a brutal retail environment – especially in discretionary retail, have triggered a “culling of the herd”. So the silver lining of the economic collapse for our surviving clients is a bit less competition.
Gone are some of the mega-chains, such as Friedman and Whitehall and Crescent. Gone are many of the “mom and pops”. Even one of the mega-chains, Zales, seems to be teetering on the edge.
So the fittest, our Survivors are still there, and feeling a bit less “brick and mortar” competition. That’s giving them more time to deal with the other strategic issues like Gold prices, and Internet competition.
Tell me what you think. Are you glowing in the silver lining? Is it giving you some space to deal with other strategic issues? Are you a survivor because of a strong balance sheet, or from “staying the course”, or something else?
Recently I’ve seen a couple of articles about the failure of Web 2.0 or Internet II to produce meaningful revenue.
Then there was Web 2.0 where the Internet became the social conduit thanks to MySpace, and FaceBook, and like you are reading now — blogs. Instead of information changing weekly (or maybe rarely) you have up-to-the-minute information… “what are you doing right now?” asks FaceBook.
The hunger for fresh information is well known by Google. Their ‘web crawlers’ look for the sites with the most recent activity — often blogs rather than web pages. That’s why the stale web pages are buried at the bottom of the lists when you search.
The logical next step is being able to access that fresh information all the time — not just when you are in front of your computer screen. That’s where Internet III (or Web 3.0) comes in.
Welcome to mobile computing. The iPhone, the G1 Google phone, and knock-offs from all the other manufacturers are quickly starting to relieve those hunger pangs (or should I say ‘satisfy that iCrack addiction’).
At IMC we are jumping on that bandwagon by first offering the iPhone version of RAPID/Flash, our executive dashboard of flash sales. One client is already using it with rave reviews. And we don’t plan to stop there. I’m sure there’s a hunger for customer inquiry and merchandise inquiry that reflect fresh, up to the minute results. Rest assured we will be thinking about those features as we gain experience about the Web 3.0 during our RAPID/Flash iPhone roll out.
Tell us how you can become more profitable with the tools of Web 3.0 Mobile Computing. What applications would you like to see on your “phone” or should I say ‘mobile computer’?
“…you should consider getting RTF to work with [iPhones] as there would be two executives and 3 of our District Managers who already have them…”
Kris’ response was interesting and passionate, so I wanted to share it with you:
“Working with the iPhone is a pleasure. Of all the smart phones out there, the iPhone in my opinion is the best. The Google G1, is second. My evaluation is purely based on the browsers in both phones, which are excellent. All other phones have browsers that do not come close.
Now, you may be asking why is the browser important in a phone? It depends on what the future trends for cellular phone usage. In my opinion, phones are becoming a replacement for the PC. With the improvement of the phone’s CPU speed, memory, and communications networking abilities, the smart phone is becoming a portable replacement for the PC.
Given that, what is the most important application of the PC? It is access to the Internet. The Internet has enormous amount of information that can be retrieved via the browser. Thus, the browser is king. The iPhone’s browser allows all kinds of access to applications, information, video, music, etc. without rewriting the applications. Before the iPhone, the phones used vendor unique browsers, special codes, limitations and vendor lock ins.
From the user point of view, it was not obvious, but from the developer’s point of view it is a nightmare. The cellular industry reminds me of the networking nightmare the computer industry was in before the Internet. Every vendor had a special networking protocol/equipment that did not allow interchange of data. The Internet freed us from that vendor lock in and the whole industry exploded.
In my opinion, that is what is happening right now with the iPhone. It is exploding. The recent sales of the iPhone have it out-selling all other smart phones. If current sales trends continue, the iPhone will be the largest percentage of smart phones in operation. The G1 has been slow to catch on, but it too will start to pick up momentum (in my opinion). The non-iPhone vendors are starting to pickup the open source (free) phone OS. It provides the other phone manufactures and service providers a quick way of trying to compete with the iPhone with minimum of development cost and time.”
Now we would like to hear from you. Are you using iPhones or similar technology? Would you like your management team to see the Real Time Flash dashboard on their “phones”?
Welcome to the Brave New World of 2009! Together we will be making history every step of the way. And no doubt, a year from now we will be better, stronger and more efficient. Let’s leverage our tools and your knowledge to set the new retail standards of excellence.
The obvious reaction is to shutter under performing stores that can be closed (most chains look at their 10%-15% worst performers but in this economy, many are looking at the bottom 25%-30%). Not only are expenses reduced, but the merchandise inventory and other assets can be re-deployed at busier locations. The key here is to retain the customers from those stores by “hand holding” them as they migrate to your nearest alternate location. Take care to move the repairs, special orders and layaways to the alternate, and make sure you have plenty of contact (mail, email, phone) with those and all the affected customers during the transition. Send the customers a special incentive (like a coupon or gift card) valid only at their alternate store.
The next most important action you can take is to prevent lost sales. Keep an open dialog with your store personnel to find out what would increase the “opportunity / sales” ratio. Is it the lack of inventory? Wrong inventory? Lack of credit? Wrong price? Training? Use these answers to brainstorm some unique solutions. Share them with us, and we can suggest how our software tools can help you implement those solutions. I look forward to your comments. Happy New Year! Chris