Happy New Year everyone. Let’s take stock of where we are. 2009 is thankfully over. Most can agree it was a fairly crappy year if you were a retailer. But we are still here, and it’s now 2010. While people are still not ready to spend big bucks like in prerecession times, they are ready to shed their 2009 skins, and you should be ready to do the same.
Let’s talk about priorities this year, shall we? Where should you spend your money, and what projects should get the green light in 2010? As I write this I am in Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES). If there is anything this conference reminds you of, it’s that innovation does not stop, and everyone is looking forward to the future, especially when the present isn’t so great.
Here are some projects that deserve your attention this year, along with low-budget variations that are doable on a tight budget.
- Mobile applications or mobile Web apps. Yes, you have heard this a million times before. Everyone is creating an iPhone app, right? If you have the budget to create one, go ahead and do it. But if you don’t, create a Web app. Remember those? A Web app is simply a mobile-oriented Web site that behaves like a native application. These are super easy and cheap to make. One of our clients set a developer loose to create a mobile app for its retail store and he was done in just over two days. The retailer has already recorded its first sales from this app. It looks and feels like an iPhone app, but because it’s HTML based, it required no new skills to create, and was launched immediately when it was finished. This might be a low-cost entry point for your company to get in on the upswing of mobile commerce.
- Reskin your site. Not putting much money into new features this year? While, of course, that puts you at a strategic disadvantage (unless your competitors are also lying low this year, which is doubtful), you can still look fresh and new with a little redesign. How much you redesign depends on your budget, but please, do something this year to show your customers that you are also shedding your 2009 skin and reinventing yourself in 2010. Maybe it’s just your home page, or maybe it’s your entire site. The best way to help consumers forget 2009 is to show them the “new” you in 2010.
- Optimize your site. Along with reskinning, it’s vital you make small tweaks to your most important pages and test the results. If you can get just 1 percent more sales by redesigning your product page, it will be more than worth it. Bring in someone to do a usability audit. It will be well worth the money if they can identify some low-hanging fruit that will make a large impact this year.
- Be creative with promotions. It’s no great revelation that promotions and discounts were a big deal in 2009. Take a long and hard look at your offerings. People want value for their money. But, you can provide high value to consumers while increasing share-of-wallet. These are not opposing forces. Companies like Amazon know this, and routinely offer product bundles at discounted prices. Take a look at your offerings. How can you start bundling things together to increase value and share-of-wallet? Whether you are a service company or a retailer, this idea is powerful and applies to you. You just need to take a long, hard look at what you offer and think about the problems consumers are trying to solve, and how many tools in your arsenal go together to solve those problems.
- Finally, use the resources you have to their fullest creative capacity. Your employees each have ideas for your business. Take a page from companies like Google and give them the space, time, and encouragement to come up with guerilla projects and teams to execute them. You never know: the person you least expect in your company might have the million-dollar idea that will make all the difference this year for your bottom line. Your employees want to keep their jobs, so I’m sure they’re all working for the good of the company.
Above all, don’t be afraid of 2010. Lick your wounds, dust yourself off, and get started on optimizing your site’s consumer experience. Find ways to increase share-of-wallet by providing more value with bundled offerings, and harness the good will of your work force to all work together to make 2010 a great year.
Comments or thoughts? Things you want to share about your 2010 plans? Leave a comment below.
Until next time…