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How Differently Do You Think?

When I walked into an Apple retail store for the first time, I couldn’t believe it. Talk about challenging the traditional retail experience. All in line with Apple operating from its sense of purpose to ‘Think Differently’.In your local Apple store there are no cash registers. If you want to buy something, you flag down an Apple Genius wearing a brightly coloured T-shirt and hand over your credit card. They scan the item’s bar code with a specially outfitted iPhone or iPad, swipe your credit card and email you the receipt. The transaction can happen anywhere in the store.

Small retailers are already using iPads with Square technology, or something similar, to handle the main functions of cash registers — at a fraction of the cost.

Remember how Apple turned the music industry model on its head with iTunes?
If I were in the business of point of sale and selling cash registers, I’d start to be worried about obsoletion.

Throughout every business environment environment there is a challenge to evolve. To change to stay ahead of the game. Or – like in Apple’s case – change the game completely.

For me, walking into that Apple store was like walking into a parallel retail universe. I felt like the world had changed and I’d missed it – until I walked out the door and back into the ‘old’ retail environment.

But who wants ‘old’? This is the challenge that ESG constantly has to overcome. How we innovate, how we take ourselves to market, the points of difference that encourage customers to choose to buy from us. Which is important, because our customers do have to make a choice. So how do we make ourselves most valuable and easiest choice?

For example, how many ‘touch points’ does your customer currently have with you? They need to order, they email, pick up the phone, maybe fax (do people still fax?), or they use your online ordering system. Or even, nowadays, people send requests via Twitter or Facebook. A colleague’s favourite coffee shop in the city accepts Twitter orders for takeaways. The point here is the ease. My colleague no longer queues for coffee. Your customers – if they’re buying from you online – no longer have to worry about filling in new order sheets. You are adding value, and more importantly, you’re making it easy for people to buy off you.

In a time-poor environment, making it as easy as possible for your customers to do business with you is an attractive proposition. How many touch points do you have, and are they working for you? I’d love to hear.