Every day there seems to be hundreds of articles about how to improve a retailer’s customer loyalty and lifetime value. I know I am one of these people writing this stuff! What I see is a lot of mechanical advice like, send personally targeted emails, offer a rewards program based on loyalty (frequency and spend), deploy tablets in the store to maintain constant connection with the customer, have WiFi so customers can use your companies smartphone application in the store for the endless isle experience. All of these things may have value, but not just by the fact that you do them. Here is the trap! These are things you do, but not who you are! Your company grew out of nothing to become what it is today because you had something customers wanted to be a part of. What was that? Is it still core to what and who you are as a brand or have you drifted off into the weeds. Do you need to reinvent yourself or better yet reassess your core value proposition? Best Buy and Barnes and Noble are two companies I regularly talk about in my blogs that needed reassessing. Why? Maybe their value proposition window has come and gone? Did Amazon do what needed to be done leaving those companies scrambling to pick up the pieces?
You can never "rest on one's laurels", but neither can you discard who you are as a company. Barnes and Noble have an incredible brand that I personally watched being re-built over the last 25 years. Barnes and Noble was founded in 1873 in Wheaton, Illinois as a printing company. They opened their first bookstore in New York City in 1917. Barnes and Noble has re-invented itself many times over. In the 1980’s with the book industry not doing well Barnes and Noble did a bold thing and went out and acquired their competitor a much bigger 700+ book store chain called B. Dalton Books. Barnes and Noble did not just buy this chain and milk it, they took their combined companies and created a new and different bookstore experience where people came and hung out. What a concept, have customers hang out and they will surely buy something. Barnes and Noble was now providing a service! Barnes and Noble kept with what they knew books, but turned the concept of buying books on its head. So now Barnes and Noble need’s to make another bold move or not. This is the cycle of retailing
The message here is that Barnes and Noble figured out a way to be “in” and created a place to be seen and have a great experience. The position for "king of the hill" is always changing. This is where the pivotal point comes in a company’s life that they must look hard at who they are and who they want to be and get to making it so! No one from the outside can tell a company that answer. What will you do?