The retail marketplace transformation was not the result of a ‘big bang’ type change event, it was the result of a series of continuous changes to the marketplace enacted and invoked by retailers, consumers and technology. I think the greatest influence and impact came from technology and the ways that both retailers and consumers embraced the technology to reshape the marketplace to meet their needs. The transformation was the result of years of experimentation and trial and error and failure and most important people pushing the limits of capabilities and experimenting with new combinations. If you had been sleeping for 15 years you would be amazed at the transformation and yet living through it every day you may take for granted the changes and transformation that took place during this time.
The point is that transformation is the result of the changes that drive the market forward and you must pay attention and engage in the small changes in order to maintain your place and success. The challenge now is that technology has quickened the velocity of change and this makes it even more important for retailers to engage with the market and consumers to embrace the changes so they are not left behind. This requires a strong continuous change process to allow the retailer to sense and respond to the changes. This is not to say that retailers must enact every change although they must evaluate the change to determine if and how it can impact their business and their relationships to the consumer.
I believe the changes coming will be focused more on relationships and less on operational execution. The execution and delivery tools are in place now that can support the needs and demands of the consumer. The challenge going forward is grouping and regrouping these tools to support the changing market demands and most importantly the changing consumer demands to meet their lifestyle. Meeting the needs of the consumer is the key to success more than ever and this means a continuous stream of small changes and re-configurations that will come together to continuously transform the market.
Retailers must focus on flexibility and configurability in order to keep up with the experiments of the consumers in shopping and purchasing. Retailers must focus on developing and improving the omni channel framework that allows the consumer to blend channels depending on their needs at the time. We have reached this transformation in the retail market where consumers are not concerned about the channel they use to shop or purchase the consumers are simply focused on convenience and efficiency. It is important that retailers embrace a collaborative relationship with consumers in order to improve their ability to sense and respond to the consumers experiments.
The difference between small change and transformation is simply the time frame from which you view the market. All transformations are really a combination of small changes that have come together to change the market. The trick for retailers is to increase consumer collaboration and engagement so that they can maintain the pace of small changes rather than waiting until the transformation and they are forced into disruptive change. Amazon certainly did not disrupt the retail market overnight it took a period of time of small changes coming together to ignite the transformation.