Festina Lente!

Since I took three years of Latin in high school I’ve been intrigued by Latin expressions. They make a point very succinctly. They newest expression I learned is Festina lente which means “make haste slowly”. This should become the watchword for the next chapter in retail. Average will no longer be good enough. Many, not all of the retailers who succumbed to the “Great Recession” had a fragile business model that couldn’t withstand the severe downturn. The boom times of the early to mid 2000’s glossed over many of their problems. As the expression goes, “A rising tide raises all boats”. The purging has been painful but in some regards maybe necessary. Retail over expanded and consumers overspent which was a recipe for disaster. Some retailers were doing business in spite of themselves. If you survived, you have a value proposition that customers connected with and now it’s time to get out of our defensive mode and prudently start evaluating new ways to re-energize and grow your business. But how should you determine what new technologies to embrace? Before moving into any new technologies first take a look to see how POS system is delivering critical data. Are you having trouble getting the right data at the right time to make critical decisions? Is it too difficult and time consuming to get that data? Can you upgrade your current software or maybe add an application that can help you extract and format the data you need. If the answer to these questions is yes then your first option is the fix that problem. Your POS system is the hub of your technology foundation, once that’s providing good information for both inventory and customers you can then examine your e-commerce and social media strategy. Even if you believe that you can’t do much business on the web you still need to have strong e-commerce presence. Generation Y also known as Millennials use web sites and social media to research products before buying. If you’re not allowing them to see your product offering online you’re irrelevant to them. Setting up a Facebook page is a must; it’s inexpensive and is a way to communicate with the shoppers you want to attract. Once you’ve satisfied that your POS system is delivery value and you’re E-commerce and Social Media strategies are addressing the needs of the millennial generation you’re in good shape. At this point adopt the concept of “Festina lente” while assessing the next technology you will implement. Technology may be moving at warp speed but a business’s ability to implement a new technology is constrained by physical or financial resources. Don’t invest in any new technology until you have a plan on how you will use it. “Festina lente, make haste slowly”, it’s better to a little late to the table rather than moving without a well thought plan.