The extreme makeover for traditional businesses

25 January 2018

The average child born from the year 2000 onwards has never used a floppy disk or diskette before. The innovations that has since taken place to computer storage devices and platforms mean that the aforementioned child doesn’t know the origins of the typical “Save” icon.


Besides computer storage, innovation has driven not just the technology industry, but effectively every single industry. Many businesses have shuttered permanently as a result of their inability to keep up with the changing times.


It’s important that your business not only keep pace, but utilise technology to your advantage and outrun your competition. Let’s study how some traditional businesses have made technological advancements their aide:

Culture of innovation


This might come as a surprise, but it really should not: innovation does not happen just at the top. While managers have to be adaptable and lead innovative practices, such a mindset has to be carried down and across the entire company. Build a culture where experimentation is encouraged, and failure isn’t the endi. Innovation has to be nurtured and supported before it can happen.

Traditionally, there was only one way furniture was sold — potential customers walk into a showroom, pick out an item they like, and arrange for it to be delivered. Furniture makers and retailers had to have massive warehouses for storing their inventory, pushing up costs and prices substantially.


Castleryii, an online furniture retailer start-up, not only allows customers to order online from comprehensive product pages, it works with foreign suppliers and designers to craft novel creations and collections, and have the furniture shipped from overseas directly.

Consumers crave convenience


Nobody can have too much of convenience. throughout the years, the number of inventions created to make things easier is likely to outnumber those that did not. As the consumer definition of convenience has shifted, businesses are finding new ways to interact with and serve customers more seamlessly, making it as simple as tapping a few times on their phone screens.


Not that many years ago, customers had only the option of ordering food delivery from the biggest players and franchises. Small establishments could only rely on walk-in customers paying a visit to their storefront.


Today, the average customer is spoilt for choice when ordering food delivery. The founders of Foodpanda built an offering around the idea of buying food from eateries and delivering to customers, so they don’t have to leave the comforts of their home to eat what they fancy.

Communication is key


As the world becomes more interconnected both socially and in business, some businesses have bolstered those connections, and also made new ones, through technology. From the ancient days of bartering, people have derived value from the things they own that they don’t have a want or need for.

Before the prevalence of smartphones, the modern way to do so was to sell your unwanted goods to second-hand dealers or at a flea market.


Enter Carousell — an online marketplace that connects potential buyers and sellers. They previously didn’t have the means to make such transactions, resulting in the loss of potential value both parties could’ve gotten from those items. Now, sellers can list their “pre-loved” items up for sale, while buyers can search and browse for listings that best match what they’re looking for. The two parties can then arrange a meet-up to close the transaction.

Gaming elements to increase engagement


As companies look to engage consumers, what better way is there than to make it fun for them? Gamification involves integration of gaming elements -- like points, rewards, competition or an overall engaging experience.iii


Taxi companies offer a simple service — passengers hail a taxi from the street and tell the driver where they want to go. Of course, they have a booking service where passengers can schedule a ride. But there is no economies of scale that the passenger can derive from by hailing or booking more rides.


The ride-sharing app Grab has boosted its customer retention levels by taking gamification to another level. It has a robust points and rewards system, where customers gain points for each ride they take and level up in membership status to unlock greater privileges.


Besides using points earned from booking rides to redeem a variety of rewards with partnering merchants, Grab has expanded beyond its ride-sharing service — even allowing users to earn points from spending with these merchants using GrabPayivCashless payment is the next big step that the government is pushing for, to both consumers and businesses. As a forward-looking and evolving business, this could and ought to be your next stage of growth.


To stay relevant, companies must adapt and evolve, which means finding new ways to disrupt the economy and recapture market share. Businesses have to anticipate consumer needs and seek solutions to problems that may not have even fully developed into pain points yet.


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