The internet has arguably presented the greatest opportunity for innovation and change among start-ups since the industrial revolution.
Just as the industrial revolution brought hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, so too the internet has already enhanced almost every element of our lives, and, believe it or not, we are only now on the cusp of what is possible.
From journalism to banking, from video production to retailing, the internet has broken down boundaries that protected entrenched age-old practices, and replaced these practices with openness, transparency and accessibility.
One brilliant area of innovation is how retail businesses can now offer far more than simply a different price point.
For example, Amazon is personalising their store for the individual. Now when you visit Amazon, you can see recommendations for products that Amazon knows you will like.
The entire storefront is reconfigured for each individual customer, based on their personal tastes and purchasing history.
You don’t need to look for that product you want, the product will find you, at the cheapest price, without you moving an inch.
It’s clear from websites likes Amazon, Hunch.com and Boutiques.com, that innovation is moving beyond just a matter of price.
It shows that whether you’re B2B or B2C, you need to continually focus on the customer or client while you’re carrying out change in your business.
Innovation in business can be both above and below the line. At Kogan, we have LivePrice, which features products with a dynamic price.
The price tag of products while they’re in development is constantly ticking over while they’re being made.
While an innovation like LivePrice is seen by many, there are changes you can make to your business that will have a big impact, but people might not ever know about.
For instance, you can turn your business into a truly paperless office. While a shopper will never see that, it lets you run your business more efficiently and ultimately deliver better prices.
For a business that can’t just compete on price, it might mean offering more personalised service.
One Melbourne tennis racquet dealer has built a tennis court next to the store, allowing you to have a hit with their pros to help you choose the right frame and strings.
Many retailers have already begun to communicate their competitive advantage. Once again, it’s those most responsive to change that will succeed in the long run.
Not everybody is rejoicing in the impact of the internet. There are plenty of businesses that have enjoyed many years without effective competition, and are only now realising that they need to innovate to survive.
We have already started to hear subtle calls for protectionism, and these whispers will turn to shouts when stagnating businesses start closing down.
Protectionism, which really means special protection by government of businesses that could not otherwise compete in a free and open market, is not the answer.
Government needs to protect innovation, not stagnation. There is only one constant in life, and that is change.
Every business, whether an online retailer, a big bricks and mortar retailer, a financial institution, or your local pie store will succeed if they do one thing: innovate.
By constantly creating new ways of doing things in response to your customers desires and needs, your business will stay ahead of the game and profit greatly.
Changing parts of your business won’t always be easy. Some people might even think you’re a little crazy.
Make no mistake: any business that rests on its laurels and fails to constantly seek new ways to innovate, won’t be around much longer.
We live in a truly global constantly evolving economy. If Australian businesses want to survive and grow, we must embrace our ingenuity, adapt to the changing environment and ensure we deliver exactly what customers want.
Australia has some of the most brilliant minds in the world. The only long-term way to build growth, economic health and prosperity in Australia is to embrace change and adapt to evolving circumstances.
On an individual business level, we need to hone in on exactly what customers need or want from our businesses and find new ways to deliver it.
Evolution is not based on survival of the strongest, smartest, best regulated or most protectionist, but survival of the fittest.
The fittest are the best adapted to their environments and the most responsive to change.
The fittest will survive and thrive.