by Atim Annette Oton
As Calabar Imports became 10 years old, I sat back and imagined what it would be 5 years later and made a strategic decision to embrace technology in more ways that I could imagined. To do this, I look at what areas we were using technology and what areas we could use more technology. This due diligence analysis would become part of the mode of building the brand for the future. What I was able to see was that we were using technology in some of our key areas:
- Website: A Mobilized Website –
- Social Media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Instagram
- In-store transactions – we chose Square for sales processing.
- Product Orders
What we were not using technology for and have begun to add to our stores:
- Mailing List
- Clothing Customization
- Research and Development (R & D)
- Feedback Looping
Mailing Lists: How to make them work for you
To change and incorporate Technology in your business with your customers, you must actually listen and watch your customers when it comes to their adaptability. As we opened Calabar Imports in Harlem, we optimized our processes in the store to look at what we were not doing and begun to implement some of these items. We went backwards by testing the handwritten mailing list as a system and found that in this store, more people were willing to give us their information so readily as opposed to some of the other stores – why? We simply created an area on a podium for it. Lesson learned. Next, it will have an Ipad so that it is all digital.
As a business, when our customers ask for something – we listen carefully and in Harlem, it’s been about customization but if we have to do it – we really need to look at how to do it as we already know its a capacity issue and not just a satisfaction issue. Capacity means that the tailor or system we use must be able to supply the customization process and item with ease. This is a big issue and managing that system is why we see most tailors hiding from customers or not being able to deliver products in a timely manner. I have spent the last three months in research on this – from our store experience to what we have seen in business to what’s available in technology and have devised a solution but will be implementing it next Spring if it is affordable. The real issue is cost upfront to justify each individual customer’s wants and desires. Measuring that is tricky.
Research and Development (R & D)
As a business person, this is where I really spend a good bit of my time. From reading to observing what’s happening in each of our stores. I am looking to understand what needs to be done better and next for the company. It’s a task but if it is not done, my company and brand does not grow effectively or efficiently. Research bleeds into Development of the business in directions that you need to grow.
Technology as a Business Paradigm Shift is an imperative for small businesses in this ever-changing time. Each business needs to assess what it needs to do and find solutions that work for it and its customers. It’s time to change. Your business demands it.