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Speed and agility in the retail sector

The rate of change in the retail sector is going from ‘fast to furious’ if you pardon the cliche. I’ll be outlining this issue when I speak to a small group of folks in the retail sector in New York in early January at an invitation only event. The problem? Most retailers are too focused at a strategy level on social marketing — and aren’t thinking about the big, substantive transformative trends which will completely reshape the sector. It’s a perfect strategy mismatch!

What’s going on? Here’s a clip from a talk last fall in Naples, Florida, in which I cover a few of the trends occurring in the world of retail

It is a time in which a lot of trends are unfolding all at once, and everyone in the world of retail, large or small, needs to ensure that they can keep up. That’s why we keep on hearing about the need for ‘agility’ and ‘flexibility’ in the sector.

Consider what’s happening:

  • the rapid emergence of new forms of in-store promotion known as “shopper marketing,” which combines location intelligence, mobile technology and in-store display technology
  • massive changes to the in-store payment process, including mobile payment involving Apple Pay and the complete elimination of the concept of the cash-register
  • the rapid emergence of mobile loyalty programs
  • the emergence of same-day shipping from titans such as Google, Amazon and Walmart
  • the rapid installation of “click and collect” infrastructure (i.e. an online purchase, with same day pickup at a retail location)
  • faster ‘store fashion’ with rapid evolution of in-store promotion, layout and interaction
  • the arrival of intelligent packaging and intelligent (“Internet of Things”) products
  • the battle of the small vs. the incumbents (think Square vs. Visa/Mastercard/Amex)
  • collapsing product life-cycles, rapid product obsolescence and the implications on inventory and supply chain

There’s a lot more going on. In essence, so much change that the word ‘agility’ is becoming more than a word – it’s a capability that increasingly will define success in the future for every retailer.

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