You might wonder why we have a picture of spaghetti donuts heading this article but we will get to that. Flexibility is a great advantage for market traders, but how many of us are taking advantage of opportunities for innovation?
Let's make it clear up front, change is never easy no matter what size your business. When you have spent a lot of time and effort locking in businesses practices that suit your business and lifestyle, it is not easy to change. But the prospect of becoming a retail pauper is a great incentive and many of you will be thinking of how to prepare for the new breed of consumers.
Those consumers are poorer and wiser so if you are not price competitive then your task becomes a little harder. But, there are many ways of addressing innovation and here are some prime considerations -
1. Think outside the box. Let your thoughts fly. Be a little crazy. Don't let current constraints limit your thinking. Having said all that, you don't want to think outside the wrong box. Have a clear idea of what is important and achievable for you.
2. Stay flexible. There is no magic bullet to innovation. Be prepared to try, change if necessary, and try again. Keep your options open and go exploring.
3. Engage your customers. Talking with your customers is a great way to determine the success of your innovations and to decide what comes next. Ultimately they will decide success or failure.
4. Engage your team. Small business usually means small teams but even if there are only two of you, talking through ideas, and keeping options open, can be very productive.
5. Seek advice. There are many resources that traders can draw on including small business organisations and in-house merchandising and marketing staff.
6. Create value. Innovation needs to create value although that equation may not be as simple as it sounds. Amazon is famous for including products in its range that are provided by other suppliers. Amazon receives less mark-up but meeting customer demand pays off across all the products they offer. You may be able to create liaisons with other market traders.
7. Save the magic. We may be in a new era where consumers (and our competitors) have unparalleled access to information, but at least in part, we are in the entertainment industry, and a dose of mystery and surprise can enhance the experience.
Areas that traders might consider for innovation-
Presentation - the way you show off your goods is virtually a blank page ready for exciting ideas.
Delivery Services - convenience is a key consumer demand and the delivery industry, including Australia Post is providing plenty of options for you and your customers.
Other Outlets - QVM us a great place to trade but maybe there are others including pop-ups.
Product Range - the world is an oyster to customers but also to traders. Air freighting from other parts of the globe is an option for a growing number of traders.
Online - a web presence is an obvious option for every trader and you don't need a fully fledged and time consuming website to reap rewards from an online presence.
And why do we have a picture of doughnuts made out of spaghetti at the start of this article? Are they donettis or spaghnuts? Donuts have long been the source of innovation with Cronuts (a combination of croissant and donut) being a recent successful innovation at QVM. The point is that innovation can take many forms and even the smallest business has the opportunity to try, experiment, and change the world.
More Reading: Here is an interesting article if you are looking for a more detailed examination of innovation in retailing and it includes some great examples. http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/the-simple-rules-of-disciplined-innovation