Retailers must increase their resilience and ability to quickly react to changing demands in the marketplace in order to survive. This is especially important because of the increased demand on technology to support shopping and purchasing via the Internet. Any extended loss of connectivity to the Internet and especially during peak and holiday seasons can be disastrous for the retailer's bottom line. Resilience in the retailers interaction with consumers is important for the same reason; consumers can quickly and unexpectedly change practices, tools and technology that can leave retailers struggling in their ability to respond and and adjust to the changes. Probably the best example of a lack of resilience is the delayed reaction and inability of retailers to react to the growing shift of consumers from brick and mortar purchasing to eCommerce.
The delayed and uneven reaction to the change in consumer purchasing practices by the large legacy retailers especially is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. I know that it is easy now to look back and see the signs of the changes however these signs and the consumer’s shopping patterns have been shifting for years now and retailers still seem to have been caught by surprise. This is a great example of lack of resilience added to a lack of research and refusal to learn. This is truly the most surprising aspect of the current changes in shopping and purchasing and the resulting impact on the retail marketplace and lack of preparation by retailers.
I have experienced the beginning of the Internet revolution and the growth and expansion over the years and I find this struggle to react to the current changes perplexing. Retailers may have been initially caught by surprise by the early growth of eCommerce sales during the peak and holiday seasons but they quickly reacted to resolve performance and capacity issues. This is what I refer to when I speak of resilience, a preparation and ability to react to and overcome issues that pop up. Resilience is required in connectivity to the Internet, hardware and software and database failover and recovery and retailers have prepared for these types of failures. Retailers must also include changes to consumer purchasing and shopping practices in their business continuity and resilience planning.
Businesses plan for many different kinds of natural and technology events that can interrupt their services and capabilities and now they need to include consumer demands and changes in these analyses and plans. Retailers continuously plan and forecast consumer reactions to new products and now they must include in these plans consumer reactions to new services, shopping and purchasing capabilities. It is clear that retailers must include a futurist team that is responsible for ‘what if’ scenarios to understand and prepare for potential consumer changes in shopping and purchasing practices.
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?