retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy, coming to you this morning from the beautiful Napa Valley. (Life is good.)

I've been spending a lot of time driving the last few weeks, which always gives me time to think. What I've been thinking about lately is the whole "how to compete with Amazon and win" thing. I think I've come up with a metaphor that may work…and I found it, go figure, right on my dashboard.

Think of your GPS system. Most of us find that the GPS is an invaluable part of our car - it uses data and algorithms to determine the fastest way to get from point A to point B, navigate around traffic, find a nearby gas station, Starbucks or whatever. They work, and they are efficient. Now, think of Amazon as the GPS of retailing.

To compete with Amazon, I think, you have to be the opposite of that. You have to be the guy with the map, who puts his arm around the shoulder of the traveler and says, 'Here's how to get from there from here. But if you go this way, about an hour out there's a really good place to stop for coffee and doughnuts. Then, here's a really good place for lunch - make sure you try the apple pit for dessert. Here are all the places you need to stop on the way, because the views are spectacular. And when you get there, I have a terrific place for you to have dinner, and they have a wonderful beer and wine list. Now, it may take you a little longer to get there, but I can guarantee you the trip will be more rewarding and more fun." (I recognize that my "points of interest" reflect my personal preoccupations, but you get the idea…)

Now, sometimes people will want to get from point A to point B in the fastest possible time. They'll opt for efficiency, and there's nothing you can do about that. But if you make yourself the guy with the map, offering advice and suggestions and ideas - being a resource of information, not just a source of product - you create for yourself a differential advantage that can and, I believe, will work.

That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

KC's View: