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The Practicality of an Idea

If you’re like me, I get a lot of sales pitches about new products and services. It’s hard to understand which one to grab onto and which ones to push to the back burner for now. While I always do at least some cursory investigation into new opportunities, there’s no way to do everything. All of this can be overwhelming if you don’t have a way to narrow down where you should focus. At Groceryshop back in October, Wayne Duan, VP of eCommerce for Constellation Brands provided a good way to think about any business opportunity. Below are the questions to ask about this opportunity and my two cents on how I think of these when working with retailers.

Does it Solve a problem?

This seems like an obvious question but it’s amazing to me how many people decide to dive fully into implementing a program without thinking about whether a problem exists that needs to be addressed.

Is it better than the Status quo?

While we’re always wanting to push the needle and continue to evolve, sometimes it’s good to leave things alone, especially when prioritizing what to spend time and energy on.

Does it fit into your Strategy?
A natural question before this one is whether you have a marketing or evolution strategy. Assuming you do, does this opportunity you are looking at fit in with that strategy or is it going to completely derail what you’ve been working on all year? This is not to say that strategy can’t change. Rather, it simply asks you to consider whether it should.

How will Success with this be defined?

I’d say this question becomes a sticking point the majority of the time. In the rush to match competitors, or jump on trends, or appeal to the newest generation, we often forget to define ahead of time how we know whether what we’re doing is worth it. Use current benchmarks to at least think about how we know whether the juice is worth the squeeze in six months or a year. (Then, don’t forget to measure along the way to come up with an answer).

Is the opportunity Scalable?

It’s great when things work in a small subset but what happens if 100,000 consumers of yours adopt it? Or can you migrate the program to more than one store? Those are questions that you aspirationally need to consider ahead of rolling anything out so you’re proactive in understanding how you’ll deal with the success.

Can you Sustain it?

Free delivery for online shopping might be a great idea to get customers interested but does it ultimately take away from your ability to cover costs and serve consumers how they expect? That’s only one small example of the ways you need to be thinking about how what you do now impacts what you’ll want to do in the future.

Thinking through the questions above is helpful at any step of program or service exploration. It helps narrow focus, guide strategy, and allocate resources effectively. While there’s always the chance for FOMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to an opportunity, Duan also referenced JOMO (joy of missing out), a term I’d never heard before. He made the point that sometimes there’s joy in focusing on the things that matter, whether in your personal life or in services you decide to offer. This focus let’s you do things well and hopefully let’s you ultimately achieve the best results possible.

Why do I work at AWG? “I value the opportunity to work with family businesses. My dad owned his own business for 35 years, so it is what I know and cherish. Plus, I love food, so thinking about it everyday is a huge plus.” -Kate

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