The diagnosis is wrong, so where does that leave the strategy?

The imbalance in the world continues. Across all walks of life, we can expect this to continue. Our panic has subsided, for now, and our focus is outward. For society, I fear the worst is ahead, not behind us. However, my mails are not to talk about things I am not qualified to speak on.

This week I had a webinar with my local chamber of commerce as I do every Friday. I have been delivering them to the best of my ability and trying to be honest and upfront. During the Q and A, I was met with my favourite question so far. I am summarising, but it went, “All of us, going online now, in the way we are, small businesses on the same street, fighting for a € — are we mad to build individual stores in the way we are. Would we not be better combining efforts?”

My simplistic answer is — this person was right.

Our response, as you would imagine, was to put a plaster on a cut, not diagnose the problem. eCommerce has evolved way beyond the need for everyone to have a shop. This conversation was one for 12 years ago.

The response, though well-intentioned and well-executed, was the wrong diagnosis. Strategy and “a” strategy are different beasts. Read on.

Strategy

Strategy is designing a way to deal with a problem.

Our problem — we were not online.

Our answer — we ALL wanted to get online. We all created ecommerce stores.

Diagnosis was wrong. A Strategy

“A strategy is a coherent set of analyses, concepts, policies and actions that respond to a challenge”

We need aspects of ecommerce, not the full suite, not everyone anyway. Note the words, policies (processes), concepts (understanding and brand positioning).

And crucially, how to take this shiny new toy and make it work for me?

Diagnosis

As a country (apply to most EU countries), we need a strategy for the delivery of digital. What this requires to become embedded, useful and subject to a strategic govt policy framework (required for long term growth) is the following: (not an exhaustive list)

  • Experienced digital minister
  • Regional Policy framework — to make infrastructure changes (Pos, logistics and town services)
  • Link some form of profit share back to to town centre development
  • Every regional town above 15,000 (for example) to be affiliated directly with regional colleges and set our projects for exploration.

These are just examples. Read on, again, just one more time, please.

Why does this matter?

The next few months are going to be challenging to grow ecommerce. We will have led another generation to the oasis without water.

  • More companies than ever competing for the sale ad space.
  • Ads will become more expensive.
  • Company structures are not set up for ecommerce or have the right people in place.
  • Not all behaviours will be long term shifts.
  • We will meet resistance to the concept again by September.
  • Finally, most importantly, getting found online will be the single biggest hurdle on the current environment.

This mail is not a dig, not pointed at anyone, but an observation on 15 years of watching this evolve. 15 years of systematic issues. There are silver linings — social commerce will be easy to execute. The more traditional businesses in the mix, the more rounded the approach, the more normal it becomes and the more scrutiny it puts on the “how” we do things.