Five Tips To Maintain Relevance (And Authenticity) In A Competitive Environment
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Every brand idea has an expiration date. We live in an iterative economy, where consumers are constantly seeking new versions and upgrades, and the timeframes within which a brand must implement bold developments are becoming shorter and shorter. It’s a terrifying notion for startups, but something which influences every decision we make, because at some point, the idea on which any brand pivots can quickly lose its relevance.
Whether the category we are servicing declines, or new sub-categories emerge to direct demand elsewhere, maintaining the status quo is not always possible. But remaining relevant is, if the right strategic steps are taken.
Remaining relevant is inextricably linked to a brand retaining authenticity; evolving while staying true to itself, its mission, vision, values and customers. Reinvent a company completely and it risks losing the customer affinity it once garnered. Reinvent too little and it becomes stale, beaten by newcomers. It’s a delicate balancing act. When we first launched Mumzworld.com, the e-commerce market was nascent. As the first mother, baby and child e-commerce player, we certainly had an advantage, but it was not without it’s challenges (as with any new service), and we had to educate customers on the merits and security of ordering online. Nowadays, e-commerce is thriving and customers understand the benefits, which means there are a lot of new entrants to the market. Some tips we use to remain on top include:
1. Stay close to the customer
Customer is key, and as a brand, we make ourselves customer-centric by listening. We listen to the market, to feedback, to preferences, trends and advice, and we take it all on board. We use customer feedback to evolve, to create relevant, engaging and seamless consumer experiences, to add new products where there was a gap, and to create solid relationships that keep customers coming back. We are a company founded by mums, for mums and that means we know what our customers want– but we never stop asking and listening. To do this, we have expanded our customer service team, because we want to ensure parents get all the help they need, and if there is a problem, we want to know about it immediately so that we can address it.
2. Be consistent
Warren Buffet famously said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation, and five minutes to ruin it.” More than anything, inconsistency is a surefire way to lose customers, credibility and a reputation. Even though there are a number of touch points in the supply chain which have the ability to impact delivery schedules, and over which Mumzworld.com has no control, steps must be taken to pre-empt shortfalls. Putting robust processes and procedures in place, harnessing the latest technology for stock keeping and shipping, and building great relationships with long term suppliers are the first steps in ensuring the same consistent service time after time. Customers need to trust they will receive what they ordered, within the specified timeframe, and in perfect condition. If there is no consistency in the customer experience, there is no trust.
3. Innovate and adapt
Agility and a quick response time in an industry as fast-moving as e-commerce is crucial. Businesses must be able to embrace change as fast as, or faster than the changing environments to ensure they aren’t left behind. Reinventing our search functions, identifying new distribution methods, and launching a new bilingual app are just some of the many ways we have developed to stay ahead.
4. Marry quality with value
We recognize the importance of offering mothers both quality and value for money. We select the widest range of high quality must-haves from the best suppliers around the world, and secure the best prices on all products, so mothers can be assured they are getting the best value for the best products. If a customer spots a product at a lower price elsewhere, we will also match it.
5. Be you, and do it well
There will always be competition in any market, but spending too much time worrying about what the rest are doing instead of focusing internally can be a fatal error. Although market awareness is crucial, knowing exactly who you are as a brand and what you stand for, staying true to that, and constantly working to deliver the best possible service -in a way that is distinctive for your brand- will be your key to success. Authenticity is key to growing a brand; relevancy is how it stays on top.