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“Personal Commerce” and Preemptive Distribution

There are two strategic concepts that are imperative for any consumer-facing business to achieve success in the 21st century: personalization and preemptive distribution.

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As former Apple executive, Ron Johnson’s Genius Bar creation and Apple’s entire retail model exemplified these strategies early on. Now Johnson is leapfrogging his original creation through the launch of goenjoy.com. Essentially, Enjoy sends an expert to deliver a product purchased on their site to each and every consumer upon demand, and within hours. The expert then advises the customer how to integrate and use the product in ways that best fit into their personal lifestyle. And this hour-long consultation is free. Thus, the personalized Genius Bar experience occurs wherever the customer is.

Johnson coined a term for the Enjoy business model, “Personal Commerce,” basically launching a new commercial space. Johnson says, “It’s the logical evolution of service in a mobile world. How do you deliver personal service in a commerce world that increasingly starts online? Amazon is an amazing marketplace and you can order things effortlessly. But what if rather than having a product get to the door, you could have a person go through the door for the same price, to spend an hour discussing how to uniquely personalize the product in the consumers’ lives?”

How cool and game changing is that?

How and Why the Enjoy Vision is Possible

Personalized products and services are now made possible through the mining of big data connected to technologically empowered, flexible and rapidly responsive value chains. And personalization is what consumers expect and demand today. Furthermore, with the overwhelming selection of thousands of equally compelling offerings (and more each day), consumers can quickly and easily identify and connect with exclusive, special “just for me” products and services.

Likewise, the fiercely competitive, over congested marketplace requires retailers, brands and services to figure out how to fight through the crowd of competitors to distribute their personalized “dream” to consumers when, where, how and how often they desire to have it –first, faster and more often than the mass of competitors. Accordingly, such distribution is possible, enabled by the technology-empowered value chain mentioned above, in conjunction with the plethora of new distribution platforms. This is a great example of the concept and term, “preemptive distribution,” that I coined in my co-authored book, “The New Rules of Retail.”

The Apple Model

Apple’s storied Genius Bar needs no explanation as the quintessential co-created, personalized experience for consumers in need of an education on complex products. On the other hand, Apple’s preemptive distribution strategy needs some clarification. The products, accompanied by the super-compelling Genius Bar experience and the in-store environment, are so powerful that Apple does not have to physically and preemptively distribute to consumers. Rather, consumers so hunger for the co-created experience that they literally race to the store to preemptively get to the head of the line — which could be city blocks long. They become addicted, because each time they visit, it is a new and unique co-created experience. So the addiction, so to speak, not only increases the value of the store and everything in it, it also gives Apple its pricing power, which has appreciated from day-one. Need I remind you that at about $5800 in sales per square foot, Apple is the most productive retailer anywhere on the planet in all of history?

The Enjoy Model

Leapfrogging his Apple creation, Johnson described his Enjoy vision this way: \”What if the absolute best of the Apple Store could just come to you, wherever you are, when you want it?\”

Well, that pretty much says it all. So a consumer logs on to www.goenjoy.com, and browses through 14 brands and 39 products. Enjoy is expanding this launch number on a weekly basis, expected to triple over the next few months. Each of the products comes with personalized experiences, delivered by the experts, who help customers shape and maximize the products for their individual purpose. And it’s fast. When customers order the products, they indicate within a four-hour period when and where they wish the product delivered, allowing for a one-hour discussion at the point of delivery. The delivery can be at work, at home, in the park, at Starbucks – wherever the customer desires. The expert delivers the product and provides the personalized experience free of charge.

Plus the “Genius Bar brought to you” takes personalization to a stratospheric level. As far as preemptive distribution goes, what consumer would not opt for the immediacy of receiving the product and its expert wherever they are and whenever they want it — within a few hours. And, again, all of this personal service is delivered without charge.

That’s it folks. The idea is pretty simple to understand. However, it’s not so simple to structure and organize the model and all of its operational processes. And this is not an Amazon, Uber or hundreds of other “get big fast” models. Johnson’s plan is to grow “one customer, one visit and one market at a time.” And by market, he’s talking one neighborhood at a time. Currently, Enjoy is in the San Francisco Bay area and in New York City. This disciplined and methodical growth strategy is necessitated by the need to hire and thoroughly train enough experts to be able to execute on the promise of almost instant delivery with a dazzling customer experience. The experts, are Enjoy employees, and receive salaries and benefits based on the choice of total weekly hours they wish to work. And they operate on call wherever they may be at the time of a customer requested delivery.

Enjoy is a true collaboration among the product manufacturers, the experts and customers. Johnson explains, “Each (product) partner designs the experience our teams will deliver. GoPro asked us to help the customer make, edit and share their first movie before we leave. Sonos asked us to set up their speakers and show them all the ways they can ENJOY music. DGI wants us to help co-pilot their first flight with their new drone.”

The products sold on Enjoy are priced for the full retail markup and never promoted. It seems to be working, à la Apple no-discount approach. So far, consumers are happy to pay full price for the benefit of immediate delivery with a personal expert experience to boot. Another distribution innovation: Enjoy only carries a minimal amount of inventory, just enough to allow time for replenishment.

The Next Big Thing?

As Johnson describes his vision, he says, “First there were stores, then e-commerce, and now we think we’re the next paradigm shift in shopping. Our product is the person.” Indeed, Enjoy takes personalization and preemptive distribution to another level.

I so get it. And if he can pull it off, “one customer, one visit and one market at a time,” Enjoy and what Johnson calls, “Personal Commerce,” may very well be the game-changing next big thing.

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