While Google is unarguably one of the highest valued and most respected conglomerates in the world, one of the problems is that it is taking away business from traditional companies – large and small.
This is according to Christopher Riley, MD of notebook and accessories retailer, The Notebook Company (www.notebook.co.za).
“I believe Google is wonderful technology – make no mistake. But even mothers sitting at home are googling symptoms for their children when they are sick and getting advice over the Internet, before rushing off to the doctor and paying his fee. This might sound insignificant, but it is cutting across all companies. All the information you need is a finger-type on the keyboard away – and people are able to get almost any specialist advice before even having to consult a specialist. Even on legal issues, many consumers first consult Google before rushing off to a lawyer at a drop of a hat. It is, arguably, changing the way many people do business.”
Riley said he recently sourced a neon light transformer. “I got one for R900 at the end of the day, via Google, whereas my supplier wanted to charge me R1 900.
Sure, this can benefit consumers, but it might be taking away potential earnings from a slew of companies out there – which now have to compete with Google, certainly at the starting blocks.”
Riley said that rather then viewing Google as a foe, companies should view the “conglomerate as a friend”. “Find ways to work with Google. Because let’s face it, Google also brings a lot of work for companies – who search Google to find out details of companies, and to search for products and services. At the end of the day, it is a two-sided sword. If you have not changed how you work with Google in the last few years – you could find yourself dead in the water.
“We have two web-sites – www.notebook.co.za, which has always been easy to use and which I prefer …but Google typically likes www.laptop.co.za. We have to accept this and plan accordingly.”
Said Riley: “www.notebook.co.za is my personal favourite, because of the simplicity associated with it: sales, rentals and repairs. But this site has seen a decrease of referrals from Google in the last 12 months, while on the other hand, www.laptop.co.za has witnessed an increase of over 200% in referrals from Google. I personally don’t like the site, but Google currently seems to like it.
“There are so many things to keep in mind: site rankings, referral sites, referral links, tags, keyword, search words, social networking, blogs and frequently asked questions (FAQs). It makes it nearly impossible for a business to stay on top of the latest important aspect, and what might work now will not necessarily work next month. I advise that all small to medium sized retail/distribution businesses that want to stay in business to seriously consider spending at least 10% of their marketing and advertising budget to continuously check what works for Google, and what not. Google might decide that some of the information you list is trickery and what worked well the month before can end up penalizing you the next.
“Google has also shaken up the whole channel completely. What gave me the competitive advantage before was knowledge of who is the best, or cheapest local distributor. Now everybody has this knowledge – and that in itself does not give me any competitive edge. I need to find new ways of adding value to my customers, like giving them a ‘motorplan’ / ‘laptop plan’” with their Laptop – that solves the right problems. I would like to use the example of my own BMW X5 3 L Diesel that was covered by motor plan but that spend as much as 30 days a year in waiting for parts – the repair would not be for my account, but being without a car for 30 days caused me a lot of damage.
We find that laptop users have the same problems, a warranty does not offer 100% computing ability – that is why we offer a Gold Contract at a R1000.00 more to our customers, which then offers them an immediate loan unit while theirs is being fixed ‘under warranty’. The bottom-line is that none of us can afford to be without our laptops for more than one day.”