Saving Traditional Retail From Oblivion

Saving Traditional Retail From Oblivion

There seems to be no end to the list of retailers who enter the Oblivion Hall of Fame.
Retailers can’t help themselves enough to overcome the current and future challenges to retain and rebuild relevance into their brands?. There are a plethora of reasons for that and yes we can list the stereotypical answers you would get from a key note speech somewhere. Such as the need for a better customer experience, too many stores, weak digital marketing, poor e-commerce platform, tired stores, big data, AI, the internet of things and inconvenience, just to name a few. All very valid and all meaningless, because there is no apparent solution in how to respond to these competitive threats and win, at least not for everyone. The problem with all of this is that retailers are falling into the same trap, blame, chasing someone else’s ideas, trying cut costs, invest in number tech initiatives that don’t always work together. None of it makes sense, at least not to someone like me. 

However the real issue is the consumer, they have bought into e-commerce, social media, their mobile devices, lower prices and convenience. I will also add the culture of the organization not being properly aligned with where the market was moving to.  You see I came from organizations that are bent on continuously improving themselves. Never waiting for the competitors to catch up, the goal was always to be ahead of the game.

For the sake of getting to the point, I firmly believe that the advice retailers are getting has been primarily untested and unproven. They are not a fit for the organization and that’s why they don’t work! 
What do you get from pursuing what doesn’t fit? A whole lot of internal changes that equate to no significant results. What happens then? Just look at who is making the news as of late;
– Walmart with their projected $1.0 Billion loss. they are looking at selling two recent acquisitions.
– Nordstrom being depicted by HBS as a “no growth” Department Store Chain.  HBS believes Nordstrom needs to increase their discounts.
– In addition to Pier One and their challenges to survive. Pier One missed the train.
– LUSH back in April shutdown their social media channels. What do they know that we don’t? Or is this a mistake?

Disruptive Innovation isn’t the only problem! It is also a lot of disruptive behaviours within organizations that create no growth opportunities. At best most retailers get to say; “we are now digital!” So what! Where are the results?

What Is Your Tech Strategy?

Every retailers strategy related to technology has been about adding on to the retail brand. That hasn’t translated into revenue and it may never for many. The rush to catch-up and take share of a growing e-commerce world is taking its toll financially. In our latest issue of Retail-Realist I said that by 2026 E-commerce could be at around 20% of all retail revenue and that will cause a number of bottom feeders; online and offline to walk away from retail altogether.  When it comes to a traditional retailers digital strategy, I still see it as nothing more than an online flyer, sure it is jazzed up with videos, music, a chat bot and links to their social networks. Big deal! Or should I say where is the Big Deal? It’s not remotely built back to create any connection with consumers and stores. However it seems that it is built to an endgame.

 

The only way you survive in the brick and mortar world today is by selling products and services that cannot be easily sold online. Secondly, by being a clear leader in a category online and offline, such as lululemon. However, you had better fight hard to protect that leadership position, because you never know who is lurking in the shadows and growing online.

 

 

How else does a retailer or any business overcome this? To be candid for some this may be just too late to even consider. I believe and bluntly when organizations fail to build in “longevity” into their business and consumer models they are destined to fail and I don’t care how much you’ve spent on technology or where your latest CEO was in the digital world.

I have studied business longevity and I can tell you that it holds some odd secrets but it does require new and old skills sets, to put into motion a new business culture and thinking that quite simply has been misplaced by many over the last 5-10 years. Chasing Hype does not create competitive advantages and Hope is not strategy, neither in the end will build business longevity.

If you want to understand where the future is going you need to have a disciplined organization that internally leads in change management. Otherwise nothing will stick and just like many others your strategies will burnout quickly because they never had any substance.

 

My name is George Minakakis and I have led the changes that everyone else just talks about.
Read The Great Transition The Emergence of Unconventional Leadership. Available to order from this website.

 

 

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