Who doesn’t want to be a part of a high flyer in business?  Just ask people from Blockbuster, or Blackberry, or MySpace…its great until it isn’t and you realize that you lost touch with what made you successful in the first place.  In an age where a term like “getting Amazoned” is a regular part of business vernacular, you know that there are many businesses that run the risk of being victims because so many miss the point: its all about the customer experience.

The Problem most of us don’t see

Let’s put it this way…I’m not known for my do-it-yourself handiness around the house.  I’d like to claim that my lack of handiness is due to many long hours working in business but, alas, its due to the fact that I lack skill, experience, and common sense when it comes to matters of home improvement.  But, a recent visit to Home Depot not only gave me a glimmer of hope for my handiness but it also opened my eyes to how customer experience in brick-and-mortar can give retail businesses a real chance to survive getting Amazon’d.

U.S. retailers are shrinking – more than 8200 stores are expected to close in 2019, breaking records once again.  The shift to online is the blanket reason for brick-and-mortar closures but one could argue that these retailers got something else wrong…they failed to understand better ways to meet consumer needs.  Home Depot created an in-store experience for me that helped an unhandy guy plan and execute a home project and become a fan of the store.  My post-shopping search of Home Depot’s stock found that it has risen more than 150% over five years!  While others are shrinking, Home Depot is thriving.

Understanding the Point of Inflection

As it turns out, other retailers that were faced with a serious point of inflection with consumer experiences have revamped their businesses to suit customer preferences.  Big box retailers are working on holistic experiences that merge online, in-store, and social media experiences for their consumers.  In addition, companies like Walmart and Target are creating experiential marketplaces to allow consumers to interact with brands (envision a “toy hub” with families interacting with toys).  It is clear that the strategic thinkers in retail have embraced the change catalyst in their industry and found ways to evolve, compete for consumers, and succeed.

Now a fan of Home Depot, I come to find that they have launched their One Home Depot strategy to create a ‘one store’ experience for consumers that melds digital and physical channels.  It makes sense. Technology is a great enabler and allows transformative thinkers to raise the bar on tailored customer experiences – both online and in store – and Home Depot is proactively leading with their strategy.

Taking Action to capture the Opportunity

In our book Point of Inflection, we highlight many cases where companies didn’t embrace their future and missed the opportunity to transform their (previously) successful businesses.  Do you remember business relics like Blockbuster, Blackberry, Kodak, and MySpace?  All of them missed their chance to adapt and fairly quickly became companies of the past.  While those are extremely high profile cases of missteps, many companies face lower-profile changes in their customer value chain that are critical – and there is no time like the present to step back and assess how to adapt your business to capitalize on changes and get ahead of your competition.

Is there a scenario where you don’t believe that the customer value chain is changing for your business if you face consumers?  As digital natives mature and become consumers with expendable income, more and more brands will be faced with new consumer expectations for an experience that aligns with how they want to buy.  And to make matters more challenging, digital natives are naturally progressive about technology and will adapt to new technology much, much faster than prior generations!  Don’t run from it.  Embrace change, it will be constant.

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