Let me start by saying, I really dislike the word, ‘innovation’. It is widely overused, to the extent that is has become a very vague term which is attributed to all kinds of things. I much prefer the word ‘discovery’. New discoveries that stand the test of time, tend to be products or services that solve an existing problem or change the way we do something for the better, often because of market led demand. An ‘innovation’ that is looking for a problem to solve, is without a cause and often a flop.
If we call ourselves ‘creatives’ or ‘innovators’, we can begin to feel pressured to change things that perhaps were perfectly good as they were. I’m not saying your website never needs to be updated, far from it. However, if we look at Google or Apple, they are constantly ‘innovating’ or discovering ways to solve problems as technology moves forward. Nevertheless, their fundamental design has remained more or less unchanged since inception. What I am trying to say is don’t change things for the sake of change or to be ‘innovative’. It often isn’t necessary or helpful.
Google Glass is a great example of an exciting innovation looking for a problem. It arrived on the scene to huge fanfare and publicity in 2012. However, by January 2015, Project Glass was all but dead. Ultimately it proved to be sizzle without the steak. Unfortunately, users fell out of love with a device that solved no major problems, and was unlikely to be worn as a fashion accessory.
Now, I wouldn’t claim to comment on industries in which I do not work, however, in the world of e-commerce, I believe there are a 5 golden rules for innovation in technology:
1.The two year update
Whilst I definitely do not advocate change for the sake of change, your website will need updating be updated at least every two years. This is because technology does move on very quickly and what was cutting-edge two years ago, will seem dated very quickly.
Does what you do work for where you are at? Does your website function in a way that best serves your business. There may be minor tweaks to make or a quantum shift. In the last five years websites have had to work on mobiles, then on smart apps and now on smart watches. It doesn’t necessarily mean a redesign, but the technology that drives your site will inevitably need updating.
Make sure that the technology isn’t a flash in the pan. Customer expectations change and evolve as the technology improves. What is pioneering and innovative today, won’t be in two years time. You have to keep asking yourself, “what am I going to do to keep up and get ahead”. Two years ago it was really exciting and amazing to get a text giving an hour window in which your parcel will arrive, now that is just what customers expect. A great place to look for successful new discoveries is Amazon. Whenever you see something new on their site, if it is still there a month or two later, then it is likely to become the new standard. Like it or not, for e-commerce, they are leading the pack.
Your website needs constant tweaking. This is where it pays to have developed the site yourself. You might want to put out an offer or include a voucher. These are minor changes that affect your site.
It is very likely that you will need to make monthly changes to your site. They should be scheduled in and worked through systematically. As you test and work, you will find ways to improve what you do for the people involved, whether they are customers or your own in-house team. A good example of a monthly update from Jersey Beauty Company, is our scanning app. We were losing £2-£3K per month on a turnover of £5-£6M per year. When we updated our system to include scanning we stopped losing this money. This was particularly relevant for us as all our products look very similar to each other.
There will, inevitably, be other ideas to keep your website doing what you need it to do, leading the pack, driving sales and functioning well for everyone using it. However, these 5 golden rules are a good starting point.