Can We Out-Run Online?
It’s Happening—Even in Our Industry
by John Crowder
It’s one thing to read bad news about a struggling business or industry, but it’s another thing to think it could happen to you. Usually we rationalize and say, “it won’t happen to us” because our industry is “traditional” and changes in conventional business models won’t occur. Maybe it’s time for a more objective look.
A Look Back
Take a minute to examine this list of well-known companies that are no longer with us, at least in the “traditional” sense. All faced different circumstances; either someone built a better mousetrap, technology forced change or perhaps a combination of both. Nonetheless, the end result was the same. These are only 10 well-known names. Unfortunately there are hundreds, if not thousands more.
• Woolworth’s (1879-1997)
• Montgomery Ward (1872-2001)
• Borders Books (1971-2011)
• KB Toys (1922-2009)
• Circuit City (1949-2009)
• Linens & Things (1975-2008)
• Musicland (1955-2006)
• Best Products (1957-1997)
• Builder’s Square (1984-1999)
• Hollywood Video (1988-2010)
The Here and Now
Change is occurring at unprecedented speed and the consumer’s thirst for speed and convenience seems to have no limits. An extreme example of this (to us in America) is happening today in Hong Kong and it involves a very powerful new tool—the LCD screen. Commuter trains transport thousands of workers daily, many with lengthy commutes. Dozens of LCD screens are conveniently located throughout each car for their shopping pleasure. Everything from consumer goods to groceries is available on friendly touch tone screens. Here’s the scary part—make your selections, wave your phone over the screen for payment, confirm your order and it is delivered to your doorstep before you arrive home. This is happening today.
Not so Far Away
Speaking of LCD screens, prototypes are being developed to transform clothing stores. Consumers will no longer sort through hundreds of garments and wait in line for a changing room. The customer will approach an LCD screen, scroll through pictures of outfit options and make a selection. But wait, there’s more! Stand back, the screen will scan the customer’s body and project a picture of them in their new outfit. Like the look? It will be on your doorstep shortly. The developer estimates this will be a reality in five to seven years.
How Does this Affect Us?
What does this have to do with the door and window industry? I encourage you to search the Internet; you may by amazed by the number of online options consumers have for home delivery of doors and windows—big, heavy, bulky doors and windows. So you could go to a dealer you don’t know, who had to go to a distributor he may know, who had to go to a manufacturer that he probably knows to get your new doors and windows. Or you can sit on your couch and place an order with a website that “looks good.” What would you do?
It’s a scary thought, but we need to start getting our thoughts in line about online.
John Crowder is president of the Association of Millwork Distributors.
© Copyright 2013 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.