Competitors had absolutely no idea what the secret sauce was because they were not able to see the hundreds of thousands of micro-interactions and conversations happening between staff, customers and suppliers.
Other retailers wrote vitriolic letters to the trade magazines claiming that the ‘internet’ was ‘the enemy’ and hundreds of them got into debate about ‘how to stop this online threat’.
I was centrally placed as one of these ‘new media rebels’ and even fuelled the fire by extolling the virtues of online in all trade publications whenever possible. Right in their faces.
We were able to be completely disruptive and for a while we pretty much had the online market to ourselves.
I wrote a short book called ‘Survival Guide for the 21st Century Retailer’.
By applying the principles found within the copy of the Cluetrain, especially the 95 theses (quoted from time to time in this volume), I was able to establish an almost un-beatable business. It was a business of the people. They guided the progress and determined the way they wanted it to be.
To compete, one had to not just take on our brilliant team of paid experts but the 100k+ customers who were constantly advocating our services. To hundreds and thousands of others.
We were on a path toward some form of Communication Ideal that allowed business to self-perpetuate by itself.
Our ‘marketing’ was the environment customers co-created and our ‘advertising’ was conversation.
Purchases happened when purchasers wanted them to. We didn’t ask for it – people didn’t ask for it – we mutually agreed to transactions.
From the way people walked through the shop (on or offline) to the way they wanted to order goods – we were not solely in control. We shared control with the customers and the customers allowed us to share control with them.
And that was just in the first chapter. The story goes on, with downs (following the above) and ups.