by Abe Sherman – CEO, BIG – Buyers Intelligence Group

July 7, 2020

Also known simply as post hoc, this Latin expression is a statement about a false argument. It means that because something happened, it caused another thing to happen. Our latest example would be the tons of articles and interviews about how Covid caused the creation of a new way of doing business. Post hoc (after Covid), ergo (therefore) propter hoc (a change in consumer behavior). But, this isn’t what happened.

Rather, Covid accelerated a trend in online shopping and virtual meetings that was already gathering momentum, especially with younger consumers. Working from home isn’t at all new – I have been working from home for 20 years! Now it’s not only totally acceptable, but I would argue, more hip than having to schlep to the office an hour each way (how inefficient is that!). Work from anywhere at any time. Shop from anywhere at any time. Live anywhere and work anywhere – your location matters less today than ever before.

Definition of post hoc, ergo propter hoc:

After this, therefore because of this: because an event occurred first, it must have caused this later event —used to describe a fallacious argument.

Someone asked me the other day how many independent jewelry stores are going to close (in the short term) as a result of Covid: My answer was none. Stores will close because a generation of owners may be retiring, and other stores are going to close if they are located in places where customers won’t want to visit any longer, like enclosed malls perhaps or department stores, but those trends have been accelerating for many years anyway.

However, I think that more companies will close because they aren’t even trying to adopt sales practices that are now required to reach consumers who are more inclined to do their research about products and businesses online before they enter the store – if they ever enter the store. Retailers who are not interested in investing in communication tools, as well as the people who can use them, are an endangered species. But this has less to do with Covid, and more to do with a lack of adopting technology. Adaptability will determine success over the next decade.

Even more than our retailer’s need to get with the program, manufacturers must find ways to facilitate their sales processes in lieu of trade shows and in-person sales-calls. This is simply no longer an option for any company or brand. Manufacturers need to hire people to work in-house (although not necessarily in the office), who can make this happen – and I don’t want to sugar coat it, it’s going to be a lot of work. The technology exists or is being built at a rapid pace. But these are not just technological solutions – this requires the company to understand how to provide a customer experience that in many cases is not a part of the company’s current DNA, but it sure needs to be. Those who don’t will face myriad challenges to conducting business as usual.

For example, the images that many suppliers (and retailers) have in their systems are just awful and all need to be taken again with high-res cameras and excellent lighting. Vendors only need to do this job one time and then retailers can just import those images into their solutions. Add better (and consistent) descriptions, on-hand inventory availability, delivery dates, training materials and product videos and we will start to, finally, dust off our dusty industry and be able to conduct virtual presentations in a professional manner.

So, has Covid caused this need for changing the way we do business? Not really, because the need has been there for some time. But now that we have everyone’s attention, let’s get to work to evolve as an industry. And just because stores are open again, does not nullify the need to continue developing the future of selling.