November 24, 2013

Storm Brewing?

Allow me to take a brief moment to tell you about a dream I had last week. Yes, I promise, the dream has everything to do with business.

See if you can spot the symbolism in the dream.

I'm staying at a hotel in Cannon Beach, OR. (Haystack Rock is depicted here). I'm hosting a party. Maybe fifty to one hundred people are attending.

I look out on the ocean, and guess what I see? Tornadoes ... or as they're frequently called when appearing over water ... waterspouts. With danger approaching, I scream "tornado", and point vigorously to the ocean. Nobody listens to me. So I run inside to tell my wife, a person who runs a catalog business, and a doctor that a tornado is fast approaching. I tell them that they must head to an interior room to protect themselves. These three people, whom I consider "smart", move to an interior room, though they do continue to enjoy the party, not embracing the true danger that I'm sensing. In fact, these three individuals perceive my actions as being a bit annoying, to be honest!

I head back out to the main room, and I notice that all of the party goers have assembled on the deck. They're sitting in chairs, pointing at the tornado that is now just a football field away from them. They're oblivious to what is coming. I scream at them to get inside, to get to an interior room. They ignore the information provided to them. They raise their drinks as the storm approaches, cheering it on, celebrating. Then, suddenly, one person in the crowd says "Oh my goodness, the tornado just killed that person." The crowd looks over the deck, stunned that people on the ground are dying. How could this be? The crowd looks up the coast, as a separate tornado destroys a water park that hosted numerous tourists. The crowd is stunned, but they don't move, they don't take cover inside. Seconds later, the tornado hits the deck. Mass carnage ensues. I run inside, sprinting to the kitchen. I pick up my keys and wallet from the counter top, thinking "at least I have the keys". The tornado hits the interior of the building, where I am swept up into the air.

End of dream.

It's fun to sit on the sidelines and cheer concepts like "omnichannel".

Sometimes you have the keys, and you can unlock the problem. Like with Merchandise Forensics. A CEO recently told one of my readers that "this merchandise stuff is like magic".

I've analyzed a ton of data in 2013. The data continually suggests that a storm is brewing. Many of us failed to invest in new products, and are now left with dying products that are not being replaced fast enough to maintain sales levels. Most of us are rapidly shifting the e-commerce side of our business to mobile (adapt or die), only to find that conversion rates are awful (often because we simply cannot feature enough merchandise to increase conversion rates in a mobile environment). Or worse, we find out that our customer is 61 years old, and is never going to "engage" with a mobile device like a 28 year old will.

A storm is brewing.

Will we fix the problem and save ourselves?

Will we head to an interior room and at least protect ourselves?

Or will we take a seat on the deck, pour ourselves a drink, and cheer as the storm approaches?