Posted tagged ‘postal service’

Trends that You Should Worry About…

January 1, 2010

Lately, I have been “heads down” more than ever working with companies on redefining their strategies. In these conversations, I am often asked what surprises me the most. Here are a few observations.

The biggest surprise to me has been the pace at which whole industries have begun to disappear. As fast as one charts the list, another one needs to be added. The postal service, newspaper and magazine publishing, television, and retail stores are just a few.

Last week, I went into a high end department store to buy a present for a newly engaged couple. I went to the registry and met with the manager. She told me that 80% of the gifts for a couple is now purchased on line. This is good news for the retailer because it can pay less commission, as there is no sales rep involved in the purchasing transaction.

What was shocking to me was that manager told me that when an item is returned to the store, it gets applied as a negative sale to her commission. She is running harder just to stay in place. And the store is comfortable making her role obsolete.

Another recent trend that I find fascinating is the increasing need to create engines as opposed to creating businesses. Zappos is a great illustration of this process done well.

Zappos had become an Internet business legend, so to speak, for its ability to sell footwear. Its use of social media to promote and service its business is very well known.

In July, Amazon announced its intention to purchase Zappos. The deal closed in November.

Today, less than two months later, Zappos has transformed itself into a clothing site. The engine that it has designed and the practices that it has implemented are being used to allow it to enter a whole other segment of the clothing industry.

What does all this mean to you?

For starters, if you have been doing business in a traditional way, start rethinking your business model because your next competitor can come from anywhere.

The Real Risk in Risk Management

November 25, 2009

It’s not uncommon to find businesses all over this country talking about the impact the current economic environment is having on their operations.

Just yesterday, I was speaking with my good friend, John Fodera. John is a partner in Eisner, LLP’s audit and risk management services group. He spends his days discovering how to reduce risk and streamline operations, while making sure that his clients remain compliant with regulations a diverse as labor law to SEC requirements. Not surprisingly, he hears about the impact of the recession all of the time.

As our discussion progressed, it became apparent that John brings some fresh thinking to these conversations. One of the thoughts that we shared is that cutting staff is not always the best way to deal with a slowdown in business.

John explained that the “knee-jerk” reaction is always to reduce costs and sometimes this is truly appropriate. But, like any other challenge, there are always opportunities.

When companies are concerned about business, they are more apt to rethink the way that they approach the marketplace. Leadership will also find that staff will be more open to trying new approaches. This is typical when the risk of remaining with the status quo exceeds the risk of trying new things.

Reaching out to existing customers and discovering and sometimes re-discovering what is valued in one’s offerings – and what isn’t – can change what is being sold and how it is being presented to other potential clients.

When something is not valued, often, the cost associated with adding and delivering that capability can be stripped out. Suddenly, the product may actually be more valuable because a level of complexity is removed and the cost associated with developing, selling, delivering it and training others has been reduced. Out of such discussions, many competitive advantages and opportunities are born.

And in an age where technology is changing as rapidly as it is, an economic downturn can provide the impetus to create new ways to produce meaningful value.

As John would probably tell you, the real risk is when you are not rethinking your business.  But don’t take his word for it.

Just ask the people running the newspaper industry and the postal service.


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