Over the past 10-15 years we have heard the term “online vs offline.” The term refers to if someone is connected or not to the internet. For example, currently I am online. When I was doing Yoga, I was offline.
With the emergence of smart phones, the terms online/offline are starting to refer to if you have your phone with you or not.
Online vs offline shopping used to be very clear cut. If I was shopping at the mall, I would be shopping offline. If I was shopping on Amazon, I would be shopping online.
As we move forward the online/offline boundaries are blurring and “offline” retail stores are having to adapt.
*This is because if I am shopping offline I can be shopping online. However, if I am shopping online it does not mean I have the option to shop offline.
As long as I have my smart phone with me, I can shop at the mall while comparing prices online. The “offline” store becomes a space for me to physically see the product, and try it out in order to understand if it is a good fit for me.
Unless the “offline” store is owned and operated by the product manufacturer, I am going to be able to find the product for 10-30% less online. From there it is up to me to decide if I want the product now or am willing to wait 2-5 days.
This is called showrooming and has caused “offline” retailers to maintain inventory, pay salaries and rent while marketing and promoting goods that consumers are not purchasing through them. This business model is clearly broken.
What is being done today?
Big box Exclusivity: Big box stores are demanding product exclusivity from manufacturers. If they don’t get exclusivity, they dont sell it.
Encourage connectivity: Rather than fighting showrooming, retailers are providing free wifi to ensure their shoppers are connected. This way they can track browsing, and match online prices. Savvy consumers can get what they want instantly and retailers can maintain loyalty while generating a smaller profit which is better than no profit.
Merging databases: Stores are now creating their own online shopping experience that is connected to their offline stores. Browse for product online and pick them up at physical locations. Returning products is easy, you can browse offline, maintain loyalty points, and compare prices.
What will be done tomorrow?
Boutique stores are dead: If you don’t manufacturer goods. If you are not big enough to demand product exclusivity or price discounts. Your business is dead. (Sorry to be blunt. I just feel businesses need to remove the emotional connection to their business, understand they got it wrong, and move on.)
Connected 24/7: As physical retailers stop fighting the online and start integrating it into the experience and as the “internet of things” grows around us. There will be no more online vs offline. We won’t disconnect or reconnect, we will just live. Everyone will have access to as much or little information as they want. Supply and demand will dicate the price of all goods. Offline retailers will be used for two things trying things and distribution.
How this changes business?
Showrooms will be a business model: Because consumers will be connected 24/7, meaning they will be tracked 24/7, showrooms will know if a consumer interacted with a product at their location and if he or she chooses to purchase that product anywhere else. With this information the showroom will be paid for generating the sale. Showrooms will hold massive amounts of product, but will be able to dynamically change micro-stores to suit the personal needs of the consumer. For example, if I am shopping for a TV, the showroom will create a micro-store specifically for me that understands size requirements, price point, and key features that are important to me. I can choose to purchase at the showroom and have it delivered or I can purchase later. The showroom will generate revenue when I purchase a product that I interacted with at the showroom.
Distribution: Because pricing will be universal, products will be unable to compete on price because pricing information will be accessible to all and distribution will be same day, inventory databases will be linked across all warehouses/showrooms. This means wether I purchase from Best Buy, Amazon, or Sony my product will ship from whichever warehouse/showroom has the product closest to me.
Be warned, adapt or don’t. Just don’t expect things to stay the same.
I can listen to music, watch videos, chat with friends, shop, play games, make money and date all via the internet. Why would I ever want to leave my computer?
We are physical beings and we crave physical stimuli. It is why we choose to watch sports in an arena, go to the movie theatre, shop at the mall, and go out to clubs.
Smart phones have allowed us to be connected while being physically stimulated. However they are still disconnected to the physical stimuli. This is because phones, currently, do not know what is physically stimulating us. It can only guess.
In the future this will change. Computers as we know them will be gone. We will be connected 24/7 while being disconnected from hardware. There will be no “plug in” or “please turn your phones off.” Data will be flowing through us and everything we interact with. Plants will send status reports on how they are doing. My fridge will order milk based on my consumption trends. My cloud ecosystem will manage scheduling, health vitals, family events, and finances. I will watch sports games in virtual arenas with millions of other spectators.
We will live an on-demand life. Anything we want we can get. We will know anything when we want to.
Life as we know it will change when technology starts to physically stimulate us.
I read an article online about work life balance. The conclusion of the article was if you want to be a top 5% CEO there is no work life balance instead it is work all the time.
The article got me thinking about this term “work life balance” and what exactly it means. I think a lot of people see it as a goal to spend 50% of your time doing shit you don’t want to do but is necessary and 50% of the time doing stuff you want to do but doesn’t pay the bills.
My question is, why does the shit you want to do not pay the bills? And why are you doing shit you don’t want to do?
Definition of work: Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.
Definition of life: The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death
The definition of work is in the definition of life. To be alive is to be able to do work.
Why are people stressing about when to “work” and when to “live?”
Love life without having to be important.
I was invited to the It’s All Social conference this week.
I find the types of people who attend social media conferences fascinating. I actually find the concept of a social media conference very strange.
The attendees are usually skewed to over 40, business owners or senior managers desperately trying to get on the social media wave.
Before I get into why I find social media conferences strange, I should share what I think “social media” is.
Social media, to me, is human to human interaction facilitated by an online platform. “Social media” seems broad and misleading to me. If media is defined as sound, video, photos, and text, is a letter sent to a friend social media? At its core, it is a piece of media shared with a friend. The term social media has no indication of being exclusively online.
Does “Social Media” have to happen on a platform that allows for one-to-many communication? To me that is broadcasting and has nothing to do with social. Also, if that is the case, if I direct message someone on Twitter am I no longer engaging in social media. I actually think a direct message is more “social media” than a tweet.
Why is a Facebook message social media, but an email isn’t.
My redefinition of social media is online social interaction.
Now this is why I find social media conferences strange. Imagine a conference that discussed how to interact socially. This would be strange right? You would probably wonder what kind of deprived upbringing did these attendees have. You might also wonder why they don’t just go to a bar or meetup and get some social skills.
This is how I feel about social media conferences or anything social media workshop related. These conferences remind me of the book how to win friends and influence others. The problem is they don’t realize this is what they are discussing which makes the discussions surface and lame.
With that being said, I did enjoy hearing the speakers at the conference. Lauren Out Loud had an informative and energetic presentation about memes and why brands suck at creating them. I enjoyed the story from Samsung Canada’s community manager on the interaction that took place between a brand fan and a picture of a dragon. There was also a lot of talk about why marketers rule the world and how amazing we are, which was a nice ego boost for most attendees and myself.
However, all of these stories are available online and if I wanted an ego boost I could talk to my girlfriend or mum.
What I really find strange is social media strategy. Do we need a strategy on how to interact with people? Is this the world we are living in where we need to define the goal of a human to human interaction?
When Samsung’s community manager sent a drawing of a Kangaroo on a unicycle back to a fan who sent him a drawing of a fire breathing dragon, was that a strategy? Drew Bomhoff admitted he was just having fun and thought if he had drawn a picture and sent it to a brand he loved, he would like to get a drawing back.
If there is a strategy, it is taught at schools and at home.
Treat others how you wish to be treated.
I think that people forget online interactions happen offline. There is a human being at the other end of the tweet, blog post, or comment. We do not live in computers. We live with computers. We are emotional creatures that love to be loved. We want to be hugged and appreciated. When others smile and are happy we become happy. A tweet is not a bunch of 0s and 1s it is an emotional connection to another human being.
The most frustration question I hear at social media conferences is what is the ROI of social media. Seriously?! Would we ever ask that about a social interaction? What was the ROI of helping someone cross the street? Or what was the ROI of giving someone directions?
Why are brands acting like robotic assholes?
Lets focus on making people smile because it makes us happy NOT because it makes us money.
*This blog post makes me wonder if brands are prostitutes in disguise?
Imagine you were given a car to drive. You can control the direction the car goes using the steering wheel. However, you can not stop the car from moving forward.
Are you in control? Or is the car?
Commoditize: The act of making a process, good or service easy to obtain by making it as uniform, plentiful and affordable as possible. — www.learnaboutwallstreet.com/financial_terms_c.html
On-demand is a term used by many content service providers highlighting the ability to gain access to content when you want it.
You don’t need to worry about leaving your home, content being out of stock or having to schedule your life around when content will be available.
Content is ready for you, when you want it.
Just in time (JIT) is a term used by manufacturers who use a model called “lean.” Lean manufacturing means keeping resources as limited as possible in order to minimize waste and costs. JIT is when a factory needs parts to build a widget (lets say a car), parts are only ordered for that car. Nothing more and nothing less. The parts are ready just in time for the production of the car that has been ordered. In principal this is on-demand manufacturing. A customer puts in an order, and this demand call initiates the order of parts and the factory then builds what the customer ordered.
When I traveled to London recently, I found some pants that I loved. Unfortunately the only size that fit was in a colour I didn’t want. In the past I would say this is too bad and move on. Instead, I snapped a photo of the pants and looked online. Sure enough the size was available. I ordered the size I wanted and when I arrived back home they were waiting for me.
Distribution commoditization is here.
Can you tell the difference between youtube and Netflix? I am not talking about the interface, but the end product. The ability to stream video online.
Can you tell the difference between designer pants I ordered on Gilt and designer pants I ordered on Amazon?
The race used to be between online/offline. Now, I think we can safely say online will win. The questions is, when it does win, is everything going to be a commodity?
How will online retailers differentiate their offering? How much cheaper, and easier can stuff get?
Will we see intelligent ordering with devices all being connected to an online retail eco-system? We already see this with Amazon tablets, and Google Glasses (Glass.)
I keep seeing a very sad, technology dependent world where human-to-human interaction is limited and consumption is all we do.