Do you remember the first time a customer came into your store, showed you a picture on their phone, and said, “I want this?” The answer is probably not. The phenomenon that truly change the way we live and do business don’t necessarily seem like a big deal when they’re happening. It’s only when seen in hindsight that the impact of disruptors become clear.
Netflix is a commonly used example of a disruptor. There’s no doubt that Netflix has radically changed the way people watch television. There’s an entire generation dubbed the cord-nevers, who have never paid for satellite or cable service because of Netflix and the many streaming services that followed in their footsteps.
Retail disruptors include things you see every day, right now – think social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram or customer reviews – and items that are just beginning to have an impact, like Augmented Reality, machine learning, and more. Over the years, you may have seen technologies that were trying to be disruptors – think of Google Glass or MySpace – only to enjoy a moment in the sun and then fizzle out into irrelevance.
Why do some disruptors become part of our everyday, mainstream culture while others fall flat on their face?
The answer is simple: because those are the disruptors customers wanted. Customers wanted Netflix in a way they didn’t want Google Glass; they preferred Pinterest to MySpace. It didn’t matter what brands and businesses wanted to be successful. It didn’t matter how much time, energy, and money went into potential disruptors. If customers don’t want to use a technology, they won’t use it.
Don’t focus on your competition. Your competition isn’t the business you’re trying to attract. Pay attention to your customers. They’re the ones choosing and using the disruptions that will really matter to your business.
I recently spoke on this at American Gem Society’s Conclave. Here’s the first video.