Can you do it all?
After a recent mission statement refresh project at Retail Tech, I began thinking <insert smart remark here>. First of all, does every company analyze what they are promising to their customers? How often do organizations make comments about low prices, great service, and exceptional quality? Personally, I get sick of hearing taglines. Instead, impress me by showing it. I am not a hater, but I highly doubt your company can compete on price, service, and quality.
If competition did not exist, of course you could dominate all three categories. No one would have better prices than you, your service support would be better than any other non-existent company, and your quality would be second to none (literally). However, what fun would it be if there was no game involved? There are few companies who monopolize their markets (Microsoft, Boeing, Intel, Cisco). For everyone else, I think you can only find success by focusing efforts on one or two of the market drivers.
I am not arguing that companies do not TRY to compete on all levels. A company may market “affordable prices” even if this is not their competitive edge. I am saying that most likely they have a competitor who only focuses on price and will win over this target consumer every time. Delta and Southwest airlines are a perfect example. While Delta may market low prices, relatively speaking, how is this possible? Southwest forfeits amenities such as first class, the number of flights offered, variety of destination cities, and the ability to choose your own seat just to hold the title “the major discount carrier.” I argue that Delta being the “largest U.S. air carrier,” and offering almost 2x more flights than Southwest, cannot compete with Southwest on price.
To further my argument, I looked at companies who have found themselves a bit of success, Fortune 500 organizations. Seemingly, Wal-mart is in a category of its own. With almost twice the revenue of number two, Exxon, Wal-Mart keeps it simple, with their tagline, “we save people money so they can live better.” Whether you are a fan of Wal-Mart or not, most would say their product quality is less than exceptional. Wal-Mart consumers are interested in one thing, bargains. I would not go so far as to say Wal-Mart has horrible service; after all they are one of the few retailers who return merchandise without a receipt! However, it is clear that their number one objective is price. They do not try to do it all. Clearly, it works.
Not all companies compete on price. In recent years, Apple Corporation has crawled to the peak of the technology world. Apple is a perfect example of a company who targets the eary adaptor consumer. People are willing to pay more for the brand whether or not it is the cheapest, only to say they are amongst the first few who own a product. I would bet that Apple would actually lose business if they were to lower their prices. The iPod, iTouch, and Macbooks are not price competitive; in fact they are quite the opposite. However, they manufacture differentiated products and have coined services such as the infamous iTunes. Apple is an example of a company who competes on service and quality alone.
Although at Retail Tech we consider our company to be price competitive within the industry, the business platform is built on being a leader in service as well as quality of products. After receiving feedback from everyone in the business during our mission statement recreation, it was apparent that both the employees and upper management believed Retail Tech shared these values.
Like anything, there are exceptions. If you find a company (or your own) that competes on all levels, by all means don’t hold out. I would love to hear it! Still, I ask you, is this company at the top, or struggling to hold their head above water?
“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.” Douglas MacArthur
I think this quote says it all. If you cannot compete than get out of the race. Don’t say you will provide more services when in fact it is not feasible. Research your competitors and know what you need to do to beat them. I hope this article encourages you to think about your own company. Look at what you are promising your customers and in return what your customers desire most from you. Are you trying to do too much? It is never too late to change.