TL;DR – Continuously innovate or go bye-bye!
I have a MacBook that’s five years old. Yes. In the world of modern electronics, that’s considered a dinosaur. And while it still works, it’s starting to get wonky and slow. So I was excited when I learnt that Apple was releasing a long overdue update of its MacBook Pro line of laptops. But my excitement was somewhat dampened when I eventually saw what was actually released. In my mind, I was like, “Like that only ah?”
It didn’t help that Apple’s product launch came after Microsoft’s launch of a whole range of super cool products. Products including the Surface Book i7 and the Surface Studio. Comparing the two different sets of product launches have led to some comments that Microsoft has become more Apple than Apple.
Indeed, Apple used to be known for pushing boundaries, for challenging the norms, for disrupting the traditional way of doing things. But now, it seems that Apple is now being disrupted by other companies. It’s not just being threatened by Microsoft. Its mobile division is also facing stiff competition from the likes of Huawei.
Huawei has just unveiled a phone with a feature that enables the device to learn about the habits of its user and automatically put the most frequently used apps in easy reach. With its latest product launch, Huawei has sets its sights on overtaking Apple and Samsung to be the biggest smartphone maker.
This is but one example of how fast companies must keep on moving and innovating in order to keep pace with their competitors.
Today’s leader may easily become tomorrow’s loser if they stop innovating.
Never mind you were the one who came up with new ways of doing things. Never mind you were the first mover in disrupting an industry. That grand, happy moment hsa passed. There is always a possibility that other entrants will come in and compete with you.
And that’s what has happened in Singapore. RedMart is Singapore’s first online only supermarket. It had to contend with other supermarkets which have brick and mortar stores (e.g. FairPrice, Sheng Siong) going online. But even in the face of the competition, it seemed to be doing well. At least in raising funds. Since its inception, RedMart has raised USD54 million. Its deep pockets were meant to allow it to expand regionally.
However, even with such deep pockets, there were reports since September that Redmart was seeking a buyer. The purported reason was because it was facing intensifying competition in a crowded market. Not just in terms of direct competitors, mind you, competition could come forms less obvious to us, like from HonestBee, or from businesses that deliver home-cooked food to your homes, etc. And last week, RedMart found its buyer.
Alibaba-backed Lazada has bought RedMart for an undisclosed sum. Co-founder and CEO of RedMart, Roger Egan said:
“Through this partnership, we can further scale our logistics and tech platform to extend our product assortment and to offer an even more convenient service for our customers in Singapore. The capital flexibility provided through this deal will go towards innovating to delight our customers”
The deal could not have come at a better time. There are now reports saying that Amazon is set to enter the Southeast Asian markets, starting with Singapore. Amazon will initially offer its Prime delivery service alongside its AmazonFresh grocery services. In other words, RedMart will have (at least) one more competitor.
With such a crowded market, all the players have to be innovative, and be clever in their use of technology so that they are more efficient. All the time. The process does not and should not stop.
And more than that, they would need to come up with great ways to delight customers. Otherwise, they will find themselves quickly disrupted. It would seem that moral of the story here is,
No matter what industry, no matter the nature of business, any company that wants to succeed need to continuously innovate to stay relevant.