Tag Archives: Innovation

Entrepreuninsight: BookShoppr

We live in a culture of immediacy, an I-want-it-now, instant-reaction, globally-connected planet. Certain online retailers have made their name synonymous with next day, or even next hour delivery. My co-founders and I wondered what it would mean to go one better: next second delivery. That is why we founded BookShoppr, to turn our vision into a reality.

To do so, we had to go back to basics. We love e-commerce, but struggled with certain aspects of the process. Websites weren’t inspirational, not lending themselves to an interactive browsing experience. As helpful as FAQ chatbots can be, we struggled with the sometimes clunky dialogue. We found ourselves questioning fundamental cornerstones of how we buy books, and we decided we would do things differently.

That is not to say it is entirely unfamiliar. When you arrive at Bookshoppr.co, you will see a lot of the same offers, recommendations and deals you would see at other online bookstores. We have minimalist design, and offer the usual bestsellers.

But try clicking on a book you might be interested in, and you will immediately see the difference. Rather than a descriptive page, instead it will feel like the book is actually in your hands. Thumb through it. Read a page or two. If you decide you want to buy the book, keep it in your Hands (just like Amazon’s Shopping Basket). This is a browsing experience rooted in human experience.

If you have any questions, no problem at all. We won’t direct you to some bland FAQ. Engage with one of the Actual People in the store, our Digi-Staff. They will use a natural language processor (we call it “the human brain”) to understand your problem and find a solution. Some people find out Digi-Staff quite attractive, but do not entertain any delusions. You don’t have a chance.

Suppose your Hands are full, you are ready to Check-out. We can do this seamlessly, with no serious effort from you. We accept Android and Apple Pay, credit cards or even actual physical money. You don’t even need to create an account with us to make a purchase – no password required!

And what about delivery, that next-second challenge? As soon as you have checked out, your purchases will go from your Hands to your actual hands – the books will already be there, mere moments after making a purchase. We can also deliver to any address, at your home or your workplace. All you need to do is go to those places with your purchases, and they will be there when you arrive.

So come try out BookShoppr! To find us, go to BookShoppr.co, then stand up, leave your house and walk to one of our physical websites.

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Business is War: Over the top

As previously discussed, the Hardly Business Review is a strong proponent of war as a metaphor for the business world. In this post, our resident historian brings learnings from the First World War to your modern-day business

The First World War was a human calamity of epic proportions, claiming almost ten million lives from 1914 to 1918, with trench warfare the best remembered mode of combat.

The definitive war of attrition, with two well-equipped combatants grinding each other down over time, trench warfare could in some ways be compared to today’s smartphone clash of the titans, or the daily battle for the consumer in supermarket aisles.

The trenches demanded the attention of the finest military minds of a generation, as both sides inched to get the upper hand, so it goes without saying that the modern business leader has a lot to learn from his military forebears.

The first change you can apply to your business is structural. If Field Marshall Haig didn’t need to be near the frontlines, then why on earth should you be anywhere near your workforce? Leadership from afar was a great success in World War I, inspiring great team loyalty, and it will likely benefit your business too. Move the CEO’s office to the Bahamas, and you’ll see a huge boost in morale.

You can also learn a lot from the hiring model adopted in the First World War.  The British Army instituted a “conscription” system in 1916, and saw an instant boost in employee numbers. If your business applies the same system to new hires, you will see significant sales growth, assuming constant revenue per employee. Don’t waste time trying to attract good applicants, just put in place a system where they are obliged by law and national duty to work for you and you’ll have no problems.

There are similar lessons to be learned for your HR department, once your veritable army of employees has been hired.  Today’s workforce is cosseted, with everyone bemoaning their work-life balance. The trenches, by contrast, were rife with disease, where the balance of interest was in terms of life and death. Today’s economy barely wobbled through the recession, while the men in the trenches went at it tooth and nail for five years.  The implication is clear: if you want a tireless workforce, worry less about personal development, and more about spreading cholera and dysentery.

What about implementing your strategy? Field Marshal Haig et al can also help you here too. While it may appear that speed of execution is crucial, the Generals of the Great War actually favoured a slow approach when going “over the top”, approaching oncoming fire in a measured and orderly fashion.  And while this tactic admittedly led to huge loss of life, the Allies did win the war (in the end). So stop worrying about first movers advantage, and adopt a snail’s pace. If it’s good enough for military men of yore, it’s good enough for you.

The final aspect of business strategy where the trenches can reassure you is innovation. In the land of technology, innovation is king, but what if none of your projects get off the ground?  What if all your new ideas fail? The key is not to worry, and to just try the same thing over again. Field Marshal Haig steadfastly believed, no matter how many times it failed, that  walking his soldiers slowly over the top would topple the German fortifications, and he was right (in the end). If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, it’s just bad luck! If one advertising campaign fails, just run it again. If a new brand falls flat, give it another go.  It will surely work this time round.

So it is organisational change and strategic reassurance we receive, from these great military men. Heed this advice, and after four years and significant loss of life, your business will achieve its potential.

Hat-tip: Blackadder

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