Editor’s comment

OPI Editor Felicity Francis on the challenges facing OP firms in the digital age.


Let’s get digital

Attending the OPI Global Forum in May (read a review here) made me realise more than ever what a difference the internet has made to commerce. That’s quite an obvious statement, I’m aware, but almost every discussion mentioned the impact of webstores, social media and online customer monitoring. 

Before the internet, the OP industry was plodding along, growing in places, establishing complex models of distribution. When the internet hit – and I believe “hit” is a good description – everyone had to suddenly rethink business models in order to “go digital” and keep up with the radically different buying behaviour of consumers compared to even a decade ago. Everybody’s talking about the very real threat (or opportunity, for manufacturers) that Amazon poses, and how resellers can recapture their customers.  

In centuries to come, will people talk about “the internet revolution” how we talk about the industrial revolution? Just as when the invention of the printing press made everything possible, everything is now possible again, but online. Customers are more demanding than ever in terms of what they expect. 

I would argue that most OP resellers have merely put a shop online, rather than create a truly comprehensive online presence using all available tools. Of course there are exceptions, but most of us still don’t fully understand the incredibly fast-evolving power of the internet. 

That’s one reason why meeting together, such as at forums, to discuss best practice and find the way forward is so valuable. There’s still power in a face-to-face discussion.