business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

We talk frequently here on MNB about the impact that Amazon is having - and is likely to have - on more traditional retail. Another reminder came yesterday, when Hank Armour, president/CEO of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), gave his annual address at the NACS Show in Atlanta.

One of Armour's primary topics was the concept that he called “working backward,” which he said was making sure that "the defined benefits to the end user are defined before any project can be initiated."

The first step in this process he said, is to write a press release announcing what success looks like.

Which is exactly what they do at Amazon, and have pretty much from the company's beginnings. We've mentioned it often here on MNB.

Armour is absolutely right, because working backwards and defining customer benefits helps businesses do two things.

First, it simply defines the customer benefit. If you can't define the benefit to the shopper, then it is time to rethink the initiative. It isn't a concept that started with Amazon, but it is one that Amazon has brought to new technological heights, using algorithms to figure out what customers wanted and needed, and then responding.

Second, it forces the business to think in terms of story. We've written about this a lot on MNB over the years - the advantages of having a clear narrative that defines the business for customers, employees and partners. If there's a story, then there is a touchstone for everyone connected to the business.

This is, I think, very smart. If the businesses attending Armour's NACS Show speech take it seriously, it gives them an advantage going forward.

It is an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: