January 16, 2013 by Colin Kelly
HMV. Blockbuster. Woolworths.
Big high street names, not that long ago dominant and indestructible. Providing employment, and community in town centres and shopping malls.
Now – game over and it’s no great surprise.
Sad yes, but there’s no room for sentiment in this digital revolution. And it’s not enough to ‘be able to adapt’ any more. That’s like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. (Sorry Tesco).
You have to anticipate the change, get out first and get ahead.
John Menzies did it in 1998. When hardly anyone had broadband and Amazon was still best known as a rainforest, this forward thinking Scottish company saw what was up ahead and changed direction. They got it. Sold their shops to WH Smith and threw everything into distribution.
A very smart move – but now what? Once again, they’re wondering about the future as newspaper sales decline. A Menzies digital magazine service folded back in 2009.
Is anyone safe? It’s not enough to be a pioneer once and then sit back and relax. You have to constantly evolve and innovate. Ask yourself every single day, ‘Is this the right thing to be doing? Am I truly giving 100%?’
The comfort zone is the road to hell.
Google were seen as a safe bet for years. Yesterday, with one announcement from Lord Zuckerberg that changed. Facebook’s Open Graph puts a massive question mark against the world’s biggest search engine. Now we understand why ‘Google+ simply HAS to work.’
It might be too late.
Still there are the sceptics. Who scoff and sneer at people staring at their phones, who say they’ll never shop online, who think the country’s gone to the dogs.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s good or bad, right or wrong. The change is happening. It’s permanent. The question is – what are you going to do about it?
You have to find the opportunity. You have to embrace the change. No particular shop, or service or way of life has a divine right to continue. Personally, I always enjoyed browsing HMV. I liked Woolworths and I was genuinely sad when John Menzies sold up. It was my all-time favourite shop.
It’s not that I love gadgets, can’t bear being apart from my phone and don’t give a stuff about privacy. It’s that the world has changed and I want to remain part of it.
What will you do? And what will our town centres become?