From doom and gloom to a retail boom
By Erick Rowe, VP Industry Strategy at Infor Retail
If you’ve been keeping up with the retail headlines lately (and even if you haven’t), you’ve likely heard about all the doom and gloom the industry is supposedly facing. From store closures and falling stock prices to attacks on global brands concerning sustainability, it’s easy to understand why retailers are running scared. But it’s not all bad news. In reality, it’s not the retail industry that’s dying … it’s retail as we know it.
Who moved my milk?
Before the days of having any product delivered to your doorstep within days or even hours, consumers had no choice but to shop at brick-and-mortar stores. And that meant retailers had the home court advantage: a captive audience in store, and competitors that were all playing the same game.
Remember having to walk to the back of the store to pick up staples like milk, bread, or pharmacy items? Of course, retailers were hoping you’d pick up a few other items along the way (and you probably did). Then the game changed—and these days, shoppers are likely to find staple items right by the register. The major power shift from retailer to consumer has overtaken the industry, and shoppers finally have the upper hand.
Entering the golden age of retail
Now for the good news. As modern technology paves the way out of the industry’s dark age, the shift toward customer-centric retailing is creating a boom of some of the best retail stores we’ve ever had, and the best retail experiences to go with them.
It was once believed that Wal-Mart would kill all grocery stores, but despite its entrance into the marketplace, consumers now have access to a myriad of specialty markets, organic options, discount grocers, and some of the most fantastic supermarkets that have ever existed. And it’s not just grocery. Think about how Netflix has revolutionized TV programming, consumption, and the cost of entertainment. By putting customer needs, wants, and convenience first, Netflix and its competitors have skyrocketed viewers right into the golden age of television.
Retail smarter, not harder
So how can today’s brands follow the yellow brick road and take their place in the golden age of retail? There’s no one textbook answer, but long-term success lies in figuring out where the “white space” lies to offer shoppers something they haven’t seen before.
For example: Outsmarting the competition with a predictive assortment plan that’s curated through the scientific analysis of 100s of attributes using next generation machine learning. Or engaging with customers through consistent and compelling digital experiences that are omnipresent—both inside and outside the store.
At any rate, retailers must accept and adapt to the consumer power shift, and those who are winning today already know that customer experience and convenience supersede everything else. When customers feel they are at the center of the shopping experience, they stick around and buy more. And by identifying gaps in those experiences that even big box brands can’t find (or provide), there’s a level playing field for all retailers to compete.brick-and-mortar, customer experience, CX, mobile commerce, omni-channel, reinventing retail