The retail industry is going through dramatic and discontinuous change in consumer shopping and purchasing habits resulting from social networking and collaboration tools combined with mobile technology. Retailers must change and embrace these changes in order to survive because these changes will not stop and will not slow. In fact this rate of discontinuous change will increase in velocity due to the millennial embrace and immersion in technology and the social networking aspect of social shopping. This can only grow and expand in capabilities and retailers must incorporate a consumer collaboration strategy into their long term marketing strategies.
The large legacy retailers must change their culture and their methods and processes to support the business in order to incorporate these discontinuous changes. They are at a distinct disadvantage at this point because they seem to be buffeted by change from every direction, from the retail stores ot the online outlets these retailers have been caught flat footed as the marketplace changes. There is an old adage as it relates to large retailers that compares the ability for the retailer to change to a large ocean liner, stating that large companies take a while to change just as large ocean liners take a while to turn around. This is really a bit of a cop out and a poor excuse for not changing and should be attacked every time it is mentioned. The retail culture, from the top especially, must change to accept and embrace change as it occurs so the course corrections are simple and can be implemented quickly.
Large retailers must change into more nimble and more imaginative retailers that are asking why not change rather than why change. The change occurring in the marketplace feels now like massive change and it is a massive change to the market as it stood five or even ten years ago. Retailers now are forced into massive and wholesale change in their actions and business capabilities to incorporate social shopping and purchasing. However, this current massive change has occurred incrementally over the years and if retailers had spent the time and resources, and begun to change their culture to embrace the new capabilities rather than fight new consumer shopping trends I would argue their position today would have been dramatically different.
It is human nature to fight change and that human nature has caused the retail market disruption. Now retailers must change their strategy and embark on large scale change in order to survive let alone succeed. Retail leadership must recognize this and embrace and encourage the change going forward. They must create a culture that encourages analysis and change rather than discourage. At this point though the hurdle to overcome the market changes will be too great for many companies and the others will survive as a much different entity.
And now for the audience participation portion of the show…
ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors. How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience? Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes. In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas. How can you support these continuously changing requirements?