If online is killing your business: Help it!

Posted on Posted in Business model, Innovation, Strategy

Recently I was talking to an owner of a small business. I asked him how business was going. He replied that business was tough. Lately he’s been noticing people coming in, checking out the clothes he has for sale, trying them on, and then buying the right size online. He said it was killing his business but also the businesses around him.

I asked him: “Why don’t you help them?”.

“What? You mean make it easier? I’ll go out of business even faster!”, he responded.

“But it is killing your business now, isn’t it?”


“Do you think they’ll stop doing this in the future?”

“Err.. no…”

“What have you got to lose?”

“Okay,┬áhypothetically, how could I help them and save my business?”

From that point on we started talking about possibilities instead of complaining about the evilness of modern technology. We discovered there are a lot of possibilities! He could place tablets throughout the shop which customers can use to buy from his webshop. He could display prices from online shops next to his, taking away the desire to compare online. He could change his prices every day to beat online prices, making it worthwhile to make a trip to the shop. Et cetera.

The idea that stuck with us the most was a partnership with a (couple of) website(s). He could turn his store into a showroom, aimed at solving the questions that webshops can’t answer: “What does this color look like in real life”, “Does this actually fit”. This would enable him to decrease his stock because he’ll need less items: if a brand sells 5 different colors of shirt, you could get one of every colors in different sizes so people can fit the brand and see how the colors look. He could offer free wifi to customers, which automatically links to the website he’s working with. The data of the customers will show the most popular items. The shop will have a couple of the most popular items in store to keep the advantage of buying of the rack. The profits are shared between the webshops and the owner of the shop.

What kind of possibilities do you see?

Clothes are displayed for customers at Chinese retailer Bosideng's first overseas flagship store during its official opening in London, October 12, 2012. Bosideng International Holdings, China's largest maker and distributor of down clothing, is eyeing store openings in Milan and New York if its first overseas venture in London proves a hit with the British capital's shoppers.   Reuters/Neil Hall (BRITAIN  - Tags: BUSINESS TEXTILE)

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