To survive we all have to change and adapt to current and future conditions…
This is especially true for businesses and is usually driven by technology developments that either, improve organisations operations or enhance their market offerings, which ultimately improve people’s lives.
Unfortunately, these days, organisations that don’t admit they have to change and provide their customers with what they now require, don’t have much of a future.
Today another 1 has potentially bit the dust, putting 2,500 jobs at risk, and all because Maplin haven’t really changed their offerings or business model in years, even though the market place has drastically changed and their customers require something different from them.
And it’s not just Maplin. There have been others closing, going in to administration or struggling over the last few years too, seemingly due to an unwillingness to change and get with the new technologically advanced world. Businesses such as Blockbusters, Toys R Us, Game, HMV & Staples.
Let’s take Maplin as an example though. Maplin is the only well-known high-street chain still selling obscure electronics. Next to aisles of every cable and converter you could imagine. You can also find random things such as a smoke machines, soldering irons and I think I’ve even seen high-end motorised toy cars.
Recently though, Maplin have tried to change and started stocking products with a broader appeal, like Nest thermostats, Amazon Fire TV sticks and Google Home speakers. It even launched a smart home consultation service, but the change in tack has come much too late and hasn’t rescued them from going broke.
Just today, Maplin announced the company has gone into administration after failing to find a buyer to inject cash into the beleaguered business. But for a number of years, Maplins books have been several millions in the red and late last year its credit insurance was withdrawn, meaning it had to start paying for new stock upfront, no doubt decimating its cash flow.
Not wanting to own up and take the responsibility themselves, Maplin blames the tough times on the falling value of the pound since the Brexit vote and a weak consumer environment. But the real issue Maplin has always had, is it’s the place you go for one-off niche electrical purchases. Like a cable to connect your old speakers to your new smart TV or to replace your frazzled laptop adapter. And it’s never really changed its image of being a specialist electrical retailer addressing niche needs.
Maplin has become less relevant as technology has evolved to be wireless, plug-and-play, and generally more consumer-friendly. What’s more, do they realise the internet actually exists. And if your dog has chewed through your HDMI cable, you can get another delivered the next day from pretty much anywhere for a pittance.
The one thing Maplin has still got going for it, is a sizable high-street presence. With more than 200 stores across the UK, and while Maplins 2,500 staff may not all survive the fallout, there’s still value in the name. It’s unlikely, however, that Maplin will be able to reverse its fortunes by continuing to appeal to mostly a specialist audience, and they will need to drastically change their offerings and go to market model, if they are to survive in some capacity.
As small business owners, situations such as Maplins should make us all sit up and think hard about our offerings and go to market models. If it can happen to Maplin, it can certainly happen to our office solutions business.
We should all be asking questions like, ‘is what we are providing still relevant in the world today?’
If it is great. But then ask yourself, ‘could we be providing it in a better more efficient way, which will improve our customers lives?’
If it isn’t, it’s definitely time to change and work out a new offering that is relevant in today’s technology driven world. Because, no matter what you might think, progress will not slow down and stop. Progression is human nature.