If you haven’t read Jeff Bezos’ recent letter to shareholders you may want to stop reading this and go find it. Just be sure to catch this paragraph:
One thing I love about customers is that they are divinely discontent. Their expectations are never static – they go up. It’s human nature. We didn’t ascend from our hunter-gatherer days by being satisfied. People have a voracious appetite for a better way, and yesterday’s ‘wow’ quickly becomes today’s ‘ordinary’. I see that cycle of improvement happening at a faster rate than ever before. It may be because customers have such easy access to more information than ever before – in only a few seconds and with a couple taps on their phones, customers can read reviews, compare prices from multiple retailers, see whether something’s in stock, find out how fast it will ship or be available for pick-up, and more. These examples are from retail, but I sense that the same customer empowerment phenomenon is happening broadly across everything we do at Amazon and most other industries as well. You cannot rest on your laurels in this world. Customers won’t have it.
What was considered impressive yesterday is an expectation today.
I recently heard a customer put this idea in more perspective:
“Look, we invest in technology because you only get a short window of time to make these investments while you’re in control and while it produces actual competitive advantage. Because eventually everyone adopts if it works and now you’re just trying to stay in the game. Or, you wait until your customers mandate something and nobody wants to be in that position.”
Did you catch that?
He was saying there are three sequential phases of possible outcomes when it comes to technology adoption:
- Allows you to expand margins more than competitors
- Allows you to match competitors’ margins
- Merely allows you to maintain market share when a partner in the supply chain demands an initiative in order to do so
This particular conversation was in regards to using predictive analytics to improve market forecasting. But the principle applies to *all* technology investments in all areas of the meat, milk & eggs business from purchasing to live to plant to sales operations.
Ironically, that customer I quoted above also said, “Companies who don’t invest in analytics and similar innovations on their own now will be forced to do so if they’re going to supply companies like Amazon or Alibaba or JD.com in the future.”
See the irony? Jeff Bezos recognizes that consumers are divinely discontent. But perhaps that’s because his organization is the most discontent customer of all.
And with Amazon moving into food (read: meat and poultry), the industry has to contend with an agitated customer the likes of which they’ve never faced.
Your customers are divinely discontent.
This article was originally published on Meatingplace.