retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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Hi, Kevin Coupe here, and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

So it was just a couple of weeks ago that I parked my car and went into a restaurant to meet Mrs. Content Guy ... we have a standard Friday night date where we go there, have a couple of glasses of wine and share an amazing seafood pizza.

But while I was inside, a guy in a brand new Range Rover came along and tried to parallel park right in front of me ... and his car smacked the crap out of my front end. (That's the way witnesses described it ... I didn't actually see it. And they used a different word than "crap.")

Now, it ends up that the accident did well over a thousand bucks worth of damage ... but to me, the educational part came in the discussion with the Range Rover guy.

You see, the reason he backed into my car - despite the fact that he had one of those cameras that are supposed to prevent that from happening - is that he also had one of those systems that parks the car for him. The way he described it to me, he just hit the button and took his hands off the wheel.

And boom.

Now, if this happened the way he described it, it's possible that Range Rover should be paying for my damage rather than his insurance company. But that's his issue.

To me, while I hate the idea that he smacked the crap out of my Mustang, it also provides a good business metaphor. Because I can find a business lesson pretty much anywhere.

Y'see, one of the things that has happened in business is that most companies live by algorithms, statistics, charts, spreadsheets and graphs.

But I think it is important that companies retain a personal feel for how to do things ... an understanding of customers that can't come just from statistical analyses. High tech is important, but so is high touch. The right tools are critical, but so is instinct.

And, I think that's even more important for companies that are endeavoring to compete with algorithm-driven retailers like Amazon. If you can't beat 'em, in this case, you need to come at the challenge of enticing customers from a completely different direction.

The short message? There are a lot of great tools out there. But I'm not sure it ever makes sense to take your hands off the wheel. Even if the tools exist that allow you to outsource various functions, it's important to know how to drive and how to park.

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

KC's View: