AI. Machine learning. Mechanical pencils. Every day, I hear about some new invention that’s going to save our lives. But in whatever year this is, trends move as fast as other people when I enter a room. Trying to keep up will only leave you tired, confused and out of breath.
When the old way works, there’s no need to chase trends. If I gave in to every trend that came along, I wouldn’t still be the proud owner of a Brother IntelliFAX 4750e Laser fax machine, would I? I’d be stuck with some touchscreen, app store garbage that forces me to fax over the web — without even the courtesy of loud beeping to drown out coworkers.
I’m a commerce platform that’s been around the block a few times. I’ve seen commerce trends rise and fall more times than the escalator steps in my favorite Sears. Take it from me: You’re fine where you are. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get approached about this new-age baloney. So to help you prepare, here are three trendy commerce ideas to be aware of, and why you should shut them down.
Once upon a time, flexibility only mattered in yoga studios and circuses. Now, every brand thinks they need to stretch themselves in new, confounding ways just to make customers happy. But you don’t. No brand in downward-facing dog has ever earned my respect. If your customers aren’t happy, that’s their problem.
Lately, everyone wants to try fads like “direct-to-consumer” commerce. Is this what it’s come to? Sure, I’ll be direct to consumers — I’ll direct them to a mall to shop at our nearest store. D2C? You can’t get Sbarro pizza or Auntie Anne’s pretzels in the mail. Case closed.
Flashy new commerce solutions try to sell you on all of the features and flexibility they offer. But do you actually want all that? It’s like ordering at a big ice cream shop. No matter what you get, you’re always eyeing something else. “Anything you want?” I say, don’t be greedy. Sell your products online, if you must, and call it a day.
People today are so obsessed with moving fast. Have kids stopped reading Aesop? Everyone should slow down. If someone really wants to buy from the tortoise, they will wait until it crosses the finish line.
I’m a commerce platform, not Mary Lou Retton. If you’re looking for flexibility, take a fitness class — don’t blow up your shopping experience just because someone else thinks you need to be fresh and limber.
Omnichannel. The latest word everyone pretends to understand. I thought this was one of those remotes where you can control your TV and stereo together. Turns out, it means providing a seamless retail experience across all touchpoints. Frankly, that’s way worse. What’s wrong with a little seam?
I hate to ruin anyone’s fantasy here, but websites aren’t stores. And stores aren’t websites. It’s pretty simple, actually. Why do you want them to be the same? You use them for different reasons. Stores are for talking to salespeople about last night’s game and buying candy at the checkout counter. Websites are for shipping gifts directly to people so you don’t have to see them in person. They’re not the same. And until your “Billing Address” form has a take on the National League pennant race, let’s not pretend like they are.
I hear too many brands complaining that retail tech isn’t advanced. Exactly — isn’t it nice? Buying things is a marathon, not a sprint. The beep of a scanner and “One moment, please” are music to my ears. Don’t spoil that with new gadgets just for the sake of speed. Omni? Um, no.
Now that I have a platform to speak, I can finally say it. What is Instagram? And more importantly, why do you want to sell there? Don’t answer that, I don’t want to know. But these glitzy commerce solutions seem to think you should sell anywhere there’s a screen. I swear, if I see a product listing pop up on my PDA, I’m going to lose it. Can we just keep commerce where it’s always been, please?
When people talk about these new channels, I feel like I’m being pranked. TikTok? Streaming? The metaverse? What happened to real stores? I’m not entering the Matrix to buy a pair of socks. You shouldn’t force technology to be like a store, because it never will be. Your customers know where to find you if they need you. Stop following them around, it looks desperate.
The “status quo” has a bad reputation. It is very comfortable here. No dance challenges, no artificial intelligence, no robots delivering your order. Come join me — the water’s warm.
Tradition > Trends
Let’s face it, your company probably isn’t that cool. But why should it be? You’re a brand, not a band. Stop trying to keep up with the kids and start embracing who you are. Flexibility and new channels won’t make you happy or solve your problems. The only thing that can do that is a hefty afternoon drink and a slice of Sbarro on the company card.
I’m just a legacy platform, but I’m still in business, right? Take it from someone who knows: Trends will fade, but good brands last forever. Maybe not in business, but in our hearts. The smartest move you can make is none at all.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to find someone who can print this blog off so someone else can put it online. Good luck. Never change.
For more legacy commerce wisdom, follow @naysayallday on Twitter.