Darwin said that animals that adapt are the ones that survive. I think this may be true of business’ too. The Covid pandemic has created an opportunity for us to adapt and flourish. If we make the right changes we will flourish.
The easy part has been to know that we need to follow CDC guidelines to create a safe environment to work and shop. That part is spelled out pretty well. The harder part has been to sift through the information from countless zoom meetings and presentations to determine what things will look like this season and beyond. Marketing experts have stated that many of the changes in shopping patterns are ones that were going to be happening over the next 10 years or so. They have just been compressed into a few months instead of several years.
The use of the internet to shop had been an ongoing change that we have become used to. The idea of “pre-shopping” and “curb side pickup” had not been utilized as much. We now see the efficiencies in some of these new ideas and expect them to become part of the retail landscape. They will be added to the technological toolset along with google search, google maps, yelp, and other terms that we have all come to know.
Here at California Ski Company, we have been adapting to market changes for over thirty years now. We needed to replace our entire rental fleet one year because shaped skis had happened. We suffered through the snowboard boom without joining in. We eliminated clothing because we knew the benefits of online selection for shoppers when websites started to feature buy now buttons. We added backcountry skiing to our mix a decade or so ago when Marmot closed down and there was no resource in the bay area for gear. Now we have added Nordic (cross country) for the same reason. We operated with a very basic point of sale unit until a few years ago when we sunk a bunch of money into a system that gives us state of the art reporting metrics and the ability to sell on line. We now have six iPads that we use for rentals and service with a custom program written for the ski industry, We realized that we had special features not available on the internet, so we focused on custom boot fitting, shop service work and rentals. We decided to spread our wings geographically in the boot world and have earned a national and international reputation in the boot fitting arena. All these changes have allowed us to not only survive but to quadruple our sales over the last 15 years. Basic business decisions.
Now we have put our efforts towards a better online presence. We have known for a long time that this would be important. Now there is pressure to make it happen. If people want to “pre shop” then we need to develop our product pages on the web site. So that is what we are working on now. We may also add a live talk and/or chat feature to the site so that folks can ask questions. We have a few other tricks up our sleeve too.
So change is nothing new to us and we have adapted to many changes over time. Frankly the hardest change for me has been working from home while we have been closed for several months. There is plenty to do with all the analysis necessary to deal with the many possible ways this season will play out. Plus we have our normal summer chores. We need to enter all the new gear into the point of sale. We need to modify and confirm all the orders placed in March for this season. All the new signage needs to be dealt with. The list goes on and on.
When I go into the office at 10:00 and work until 6:00 it is easy to get a lot done. Now as you can see from the photo above my office is different. I can see ski slopes and biking trails. It is much harder to concentrate. My wife/business partner can be very distracting (in a good way). So I need to try to stay focused and set up a structured day. And if this post seems rushed, I apologize. You see I told myself I could not go mountain biking today until I finished it!
So off I go to finish my work day on the dirt. I hope you all stay safe and have been adapting well to your current situation at home. As for me I am trying to make the most of it and adapt well!