Why You Should Start Acting Like A Startup

Dan Stevens

Everyone’s talking about startup culture. Lots of businesses would, undoubtedly, like to be seen as acting like a startup – lean, nimble, and quick-witted sound much better than bloated, ungainly, and slow. At SAP Hybris LIVE: Digital Summit 2017, we heard how one global retailer did much more than adopt a veneer of startup culture. They started to act like one.

And the result? How about the introduction of a one-hour delivery service, in partnership with Uber’s latest venture, in just 60 days? That’s 60 days from initial proposal to the first customer getting their goods delivered. Successfully, too. That’s what sunglasses retailer Maui Jim achieved by acting like a startup.

Jimmy Liddar, director of global business development at SAP Hybris, takes up the story. “Uber created Uber Rush after it analyzed the amount of trunk space in the cars its drivers use and realized it had more space than the entire FedEx network. Rush is its on-demand delivery service, and Maui Jim is the first to use it.”

The benefits of an on-demand delivery service are easy to understand, and for Maui Jim it worked perfectly for its discerning customers. A customer orders a pair of its $250 sunglasses, and an hour later they turn up, wherever the customer is. It’s bespoke delivery for a high-end product. But it’s the way they went about it that’s really intriguing.

“There’s a lot of innovation and a startup mentality at Maui Jim,” says Liddar. “When we suggested the 60-day idea, it really grabbed them and their execs. They got a mini-innovation team together really quickly.”

There is, of course, a lot more to getting a one-hour delivery service launched than putting sunglasses in cars. Packaging and potential branding changes were just two of many, many considerations that they needed to deal with, but a flexible attitude and a willingness to try things out meant nothing was insurmountable.

“This is thinking about tomorrow and what the next generation of consumers wants,” says Liddar. “That means the company that thinks like this will be relevant in the future – it’s relevant to shoppers who want one-hour delivery.”

And, interestingly, It’s not all about online. Maui Jim’s long-term plan (because it’s all very well to think like a startup when you want to get things done, but that shouldn’t mean not thinking about what happens next) is to direct customers back to stores. Getting them into stores makes delivery easier and means customers are directly exposed to the product, rather than only seeing it online.

It also means that they build a relationship with their customers, one that will see customers staying with Maui Jim for years, possibly into old age and prescription lenses. Acting like a startup is about more than what’s just about to happen. It’s about planning for the future, too.

Knowing your customers shouldn’t mean freaking them out. Learn more about Personalization: How to Avoid Crossing the Line from Cool to Creepy.