WHAT WE LEARNED THIS WEEK: Never stop investing in technology

Sportsgirl has been investing in technology extremely heavily over the past year, and last week debuted a new piece of tech in its Melbourne Chapel Street store that allows shoppers to share photos of themselves wearing outfits tried on in-store.

This comes just after the company showed off a new “virtual store” where users could scan QR codes and then shop online. 

There are plenty of lessons to take away from this retail chain, but one is key – it never stops investing in technology. The company realises its audience are young and tech-savvy, and so invest in the sort of equipment they’re likely to be accustomed to.

Technology is a fundamental pillar of your business. Don’t ignore it – spend the appropriate amount of money to keep it maintained and your business ahead.

Create a detailed plan, then follow it through

David Jones has been slow to adapt to the online environment. But there’s a lot to be said for its announcement last week that the company would spend more time on its multi-channel presence, even putting hundreds of staff to the task of improving its digital shopping channels.

Among David Jones’ announcements were upgrading the number of products on its online store from 9000 to 90,000 and improving its POS systems for in-store shopping as well.

David Jones has been criticised, often rightly, for its sluggish, but it deserves praise here. The company is putting a significant amount of effort into ensuring its customers are able to buy a product from the business, no matter what channel they choose.

If you know there’s a trend your business needs to be following, and you’re either behind or very slow to react, take an example from David Jones. Create a plan, invest heavily into making that plan work, and then follow it through. Your shareholders and employees will appreciate the solid direction.

When in doubt, write an open letter

Prominent professional blogger Darren Rowse made a few waves this week after publishing an open letter to PayPal when he was unable to reach a conclusion to a payment dispute he was having.

“By my calculations I’ve had contact with around 10 of your customer service staff, have received three customer service surveys, have emailed you without getting a response at least four times and have spent hours on this.”

“This issue is now hindering my ability to run my business,” he said.

Rowse was able to fix his problem by appealing to his social networking user base, with thousands of fans on Facebook and Twitter followers. These platforms now allow you to make some noise if you’re unable to get a hold of anyone at a company you’re having a problem with.

Follow Rowse’s example. If you have a healthy social networking following, and are experiencing a problem that can’t be solved – just appeal to the fans, and you’ll end up making enough noise so that your issue may be given a higher priority.

Facebook passwords

If you’ve been paying attention to the social media market this week you’d know some employers in the United States have been asking candidates for their Facebook passwords. That naturally caused a bit of controversy – and now Facebook has made a stand.

The company made a change to its statement of rights and responsibilities, saying that any employer who asks a candidate to reveal their password would be in breach of the social network’s rules.

While this trend hadn’t quite made its way to Australia yet, the quick thinking from Facebook is a great lesson. Asking for a candidate’s password opens up plenty of problems, including plenty about whether this would open up employers to potential discrimination lawsuits.

If you were thinking about asking a candidate for their password, this is a very clear sign that you definitely should not.

Don’t give up a learning opportunity

Catch of the Day founder Gabby Leibovich has criticised David Jones as being “fat and lazy” after the esteemed department store gave up an opportunity to meet with the iconic online retailer to discuss DJs new commitment to a multi-channel strategy.

DealsDirect founder Paul Greenberg also told SmartCompany this week the decision was surprising, and disappointing.

It’s easy to see why David Jones wouldn’t want to meet with Catch of the Day – they’re two very different companies and it’s a sure thing David Jones wouldn’t want to be seen as trying to “learn” from anyone.

But the lesson here is that your company should never stop learning. If you have the opportunity to speak with a successful business owner in any field, then you should do so. What’s the harm? You can pick up a few tips, implement them in your business and then watch your sales improve. Never be afraid to learn.



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