This is a difficult question for some retailers — given the popularity of discounters and luxury retailers for two different customer segments in the marketplace. AND many retailers seem nervous to be in the mid-range.
“In spite of the slide toward polarized pricing, don’t count out the middle-priced businesses yet, especially if they’re creating quality products, says Brent Ridge, co-founder of Beekman 1802 Mercantile, an artisanal lifestyle brand he started with his partner and The Amazing Race co-winner Josh Kilmer-Purcell. ‘We always try to educate our consumer that if you are getting a cheap price for a product, it’s because someone else has already paid the price; i.e., there was cheap labor, hard-knuckling the smaller guy on procurement, etc. We are finding that the consumer, more than ever, is in tune with these struggles. People are gravitating away from the idea of a throw-away society where we buy something for cheap fully expecting to throw it away and buy something else when it falls apart.'”
“There’s also opportunity for growth beyond the confines of the middle, says Jason Parks, owner of The Media Captain, a digital marketing company based in Columbus, Ohio. ‘Small retailers with a storefront should focus on promoting their products via social and setting up an E-commerce store. The retailer can drastically improve their profit margins if they are receiving orders from all over the country. If the mid-price retailer is currently struggling, an E-commerce strategy could result in saving money while still generating online orders for their products. There are a lot of people [who] still want quality products without having to spend their entire paycheck. “This is the exact reason why there is still space for mid-priced retailers.”
“Les McKeown, the Founder, President and CEO of Predictable Success [“Get Your Organization on the Growth Track – and Keep It There”] tells us how important it is to manage business deals with massive accounts right from the start. Beware, he says that one big super-contract can literally make or break you.
Jack Ma, who started life with very little, is now one of the richest people in the world. He is the founder and executive chairman of retail behemoth Alibaba Group, which generates hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
In an interview with Kenneth Chenault, chairman and chief executive officer of American Express, Ma enumerated seven key points. These points are valuable to those at any point in their careers:
Rejection comes with benefits. “When Ma graduated university, he applied to 30 different large companies — and no one would hire him. So, he started a translation agency, earning $50 his first month. Years later, in 1999, he gathered 17 investors in his apartment, explaining to them his vision to use the Internet to help small-business owners sell. With $50,000, they started Alibaba.
Get your business global. “Innovative products and services bring those small and medium-size companies to China. I would say China, in the next 20 years, will become the largest importer country in the world because China’s resources can never support such huge demand.”
Don’t wait to innovate. Ma said: “Repair the roof while there is still sunshine. “When the company is good, change the company. When the company is in trouble, be careful. Don’t move. Just like if the storm comes, don’t go up and repair the roof.”
Learn from the failures of others. “For Ma, it’s the mistakes that business owners should really learn from. ‘A lot of people fail for the same reason. If you know why people fail and you learn [from] that, you can make a correction.'”
Be passionate. “If you’re just in the business for money, you’re going about it wrong. Ma and Chenault both emphasized the need for passion in what you do, and agreed that that fervor is a hallmark of successful small-business owners.”
Customers come first. Ma said: “The ones supporting you are not the shareholders. Not government. It’s the customers, the people, the employees. Focus on the customer. Focus on making employees happy. And focus on integrity to everything you’re committed. That is the only thing.”
Help build strong leaders. “If a business is to continue after the owner has moved on, the younger generations must understand and embrace its vision and values. ‘Give them the chance to make mistakes. Listen to them. Respect them,’ said Ma.”
Amazon is the current king of online retailing — and it has now opened some retail bookstores. There are many reasons why it is so successful: innovation, technology, customer service, product assortment, Amazon Prime, and a lot more. Although numerous retailers have been adversely affected by Amazon, there are ways to compete or partner with Amazon.
“As an online marketing executive, my job has never been more challenging. The shift from brand loyalty to platform loyalty has forced specialized online retail companies like my own to ask, How can I keep my customers loyal? Do I sell my products on my own Web site, or do I sell them through Amazon or another third party platform? If I try to do both, how do I pull that off?”
“Selling through Amazon is extremely tempting for a simple, logical reason: you don’t have to pay for digital marketing to drive traffic to Amazon. The volume is bigger than any marketer can dream. Amazon Marketplace vendors simply need to offer the most competitive price on a product to win the coveted Amazon ‘Buy Box.’ Buy Box winners take all of the sales volume without any marketing spend required, making up for margin loss and commission to Amazon.”
“There are downsides to relying too much on Amazon. First, there’s the risk of having too much of your revenue coming from a platform you don’t control. There’s also the risk that if you offer all your products on Amazon, you’ll cannibalize your own direct sales (and lose those higher margins). Finally, for high-end brands, Amazon’s site does not offer luxury customers a distinctive experience.
For a discussion by Schmid on a number of options to weigh in deciding how to market an online business, click the Journelle.com image.
As we have noted numerous times over the past few years, retail technology has been changing the face of retailing — for both small and large firms. So, are we ready for personalized robots taking our orders and payment at restaurants?
“Soon, when restaurant-goers hear ‘May I take your order?’, those words may be coming from a robot. Some restaurants have started experimenting with human-like robots instead of human cashiers, allowing consumers to pay for their meals without interacting with another person. Although many restaurants have allowed digital ordering, either online, by kiosk, or on tablets at the table, the practice of using humanoid, or human-like robots, is still in its earliest stages, and it’s primarily happening in Asia so far. Experts say the robots could benefit restaurants and lead to wider adoption — if diners aren’t too freaked out by them.”
“Pizza Hut is the latest company to try a robot cashier, in a partnership with robotics company SoftBank Robotics and MasterCard, which has created the payment app. The application works only with MasterCard’s MasterPass, a digital wallet that allows payment by MasterCard cards, as well as credit, debit, or prepaid cards.”
“SoftBank’s robot is named Pepper. It has a face and can even respond to human customers with some emotional intelligence. For example, if a customer seems more tentative to interact with a robot, Pepper will be more reserved, whereas if a customer is more energetic, Pepper will be, too. It looks like an alien, with eyes and a touchscreen on its chest, and it’s the size of a small child.”
Here is a photo of Pepper from MasterCard. Below the photo, there is a YouTube video.
From the South Africa YouTube Channel: Through #TasteGuarantee, KFC is making sure that customers are happy and satisfied with every meal, and continue to get the great tasting food you know and love!