This week’s episode theme is Creative Destruction. All across the news there is story after story of old industries changing and new ones innovating. It’s an exciting and challenging time to be in business. Opportunity abounds but what worked 5 or even 2 years ago isn’t going to fly now, on a small or large scale.
Amazon’s new Collab platform is a sign of things to come. Read more about it here. It’s completely disrupting the businesses of industrial and graphic design just to name a few. Brands, Influencers, and designers can connect directly on this platform and then go to market instantly via print on demand. Major brand name products can now be conceived of, approved, and sold all in under an hour! Let’s dive in to some of the stories that are happening so you can see the present and future of production.
Firstly, Amazon’s, Merch Collab. Designers can register directly, as can brands or influencers with over 100 thousand followers. Once brands set up their parameters, any designer can submit a design to be approved. If approved, then it is available for sale instantly via print on demand and both brand and designer get a cut with royalty payments from Amazon. This is interesting now. The only products available are a few clothing items that are currently in production via Amazon Merch. Over time, it become much more exciting.
As print on demand product selection expands at Amazon, the possibilities become endless. Amazon even has a patent for a machine that will custom sew garments on demand. So everything from your new Superman mug, or to your new Under Armour shirt may be designed by anyone.
Additionally, once we add in the growing but still nascent industry of 3D Printing, well, it’s mind bending. Take the example of the Bakers Cube. It’s a whole new device for measuring ingredients. It started as a 3D Design available on Thingiverse.com. It’s been so popular, as a design, that it’s now going into crowdfunding for mass production. Once it hits shelves it will already have a following and will likely be picked up by e-commerce and retail giants. It all started with an idea and a digital design, Once brands start opening up their lines to indie designers it will bring innovation to large companies but also trouble to industries from the past who will have difficulty competing. Why hire an industrial design firm and pay up front when you can open your input up to the world? People will spend hours for free trying to design something that is a win in the hopes for big royalty payments later. So many businesses that are essentially “middle men” will disappear. This exemplifies creative destruction.
Target and Lowes both made big hires to massively disrupt their company’s current trajectories. Target hired William J. Foudy, Jr to be president of Target Sourcing Services from Walmart, where he was vice president of global sourcing. Target is currently the second largest U.S. importer after Walmart and may be trying to take aim at the number one spot. Lowes brought on Marvin Ellison from JC Penny for their top spot as the new CEO and president. He’s attempted to turn around JCP which was a flagging brand to begin with. Will his innovative ways work better in a company with a stronger foundation? Only time will tell. No company, big or small is immune from creative destruction. Those that want to grow, know they must change.
eBay is disrupting by changing their whole concept of their website. With their new survey system, called “interests”, customers answer questions about their very specific likes and dislikes. Based on this data combined with browsing and shopping history, each person gets a totally different home page when they go to eBay that is designed to be interesting to THEM. eBay as a marketplace has so many unusual product options available, with no inventory costs, they can cater to literally thousands of customer niches in a way that any inventory based business will struggle with. More.
Kroger is partnering up with another grocery store, not because of their groceries or even their footprint but because they are so good at the PROCESS of selling groceries! UK based Ocado, will open 3 new automated warehouse facilities in the US with Kroger for the sole purpose of online grocery order fulfillment. Getting fresh food to consumers with minimal waste is still pretty difficult. Ocado got really good at that process and is now scaling with the help of Kroger. This will be great for consumers but is yet another indicator that the grocery market is not a good place for third party sellers long term as companies get better at eliminating inefficiencies that we capitalize on. What is another disruptive lesson from this? Efficient processes that can be scaled are as or more important than cool products.
Wayfair, one of the world’s largest online home retailers, is disrupting by making their 3D modeling standards and training freely available to others in the industry. They offer free training and software to suppliers and manufacturer for 3d modeling of home goods. Their goal is to generate more digital content that is faster, scalable, and cost-effective. This will benefit them and their competition but also opens up the whole home product to consumers.
In today’s final industry story, we see the disruption of retail. Stores that can attract loyal customers and adapt to their changing desires are doing well. TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Costco are big chain examples of this. Pop up stores are the smaller business version. They essentially create their own niche and following without being wedded to any specific brand or even product line over time. They become their own brand. Retail successes like GOOP, are even going a step further. They are securing sponsors for their pop up locations such as Cadillac and Prada. The sponsorships cover the entire cost of operations so that everything that is sold in the store is just profit. Goop is as much a marketing company as a store and is continuing to expand. They provide an innovative and exciting shopping experience for the consumer and so generate their own following. The customer experience is key to all commerce and brick and mortars that embrace this are growing like gangbusters.
This is an exciting time to be an entrepreneur. The globe is opening up to us and innovation is rampant. There is still plenty of business for everyone who can adapt and work hard. Thank you for tuning in.
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