If you’re one of many, you’re one less

Article published originally in El Periódico de Catalunya in december 2019

If you’re one of many, you’re one less

Have you ever asked yourself, what if? Incredible, right? Stranger things have happened. I have a feeling that what appears to be impossible now will soon be found on our smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and computers.

What will happen when technology is the same everywhere? I mean, what will happen when most companies access and create online experiences so, so similar that customers don’t really care whether they are on this website or that website? There’s no denying it, we see it starting to happen a bit among some companies, especially the big ones

Look, look and compare. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember on which website you’ve seen a specific product. When this becomes the norm, do you know what will happen then? Undifferentiation, meaning you’re just another website. And when you are one of many, you’re one less. Because companies exist to make a difference. It is the main building block of any brand, of every value proposition. Being different.

Technology was cooler before. Until recently only a few had it, the ones who were ahead. I remember the beginnings of ecommerce. Only the chosen could have a transactional website. Star Wars, Star Trek, and the-latest-Star (pardon the joke). It alone made you different. Nowadays? Even the most insignificant has it. Alright, glass half empty. We can all be equal. This is a problem. In fact, there’s an unexpected complication for platforms such as Amazon or Alibaba, where you can purchase a 1-euro toilet brush and a 5.000-euro item in the exact same way. Undifferentiation applied to the purchase process within yourself. What’s considered a virtue (having a clear and defined sales system) can be a huge inconvenience. It’s gilding the lily. The unlikelihood of undifferentiation as a consequence of technology. That is why (among other things) they are opening stores, to provide an experience that will differentiate them.

If there’s no difference in bits (or very little), a potential opportunity will open up again for companies that know how to treat their customers differently, especially offline. Because where there’s technological undifferentiation there’s an opportunity to create difference in the world of molecules, of living beings, with their shopping hominids and their selling bipeds. And this is good news for small businesses, local ones, everyday stores, the ones that liven up our streets, the backbone of our cities, the ones we like because they’re not chain stores, because they have their own seal of identity. Glass half full for those who can see it.

Add some technology to your life, the right and necessary amount, but don’t overinvest in it if it doesn’t make you different.