Are legacy retailers on the right track or heading off the tracks?
Walking both the floor at NRF and the city stores of New York last month, it was hard for me not to look at our industry through the lens of “Retailing 2020: Winning in a polarized world,” a 2011 report by PWC and Kantar. Eight years later, it was fascinating to see how close their forecasts came to hitting the mark.
The report talked about the impending challenges of properly positioning retail brands to master a highly dynamic marketplace. The primary focus was on a view of an increasingly polarized world — and how that translates to our sector. Their view was that retail would fragment into low price/low experience versus high price/high experience. The authors didn’t predict the hyper-speed with which Amazon.com would spread its tentacles, but they sure nailed the basics of most everything else. Their message to those in the middle was: differentiate or die. Many didn’t heed the advice, and they’ve either died or are in the slow agonizing process doing so.
Thinking about this further, the polarity within retail’s leadership attitudes came to mind. PWC never expected that so many would fail to react decisively to both disruption and opportunity. Wall Street certainly hasn’t supported retailers taking confident risks to bullet proof their company’s futures. Stunningly, many retailers have chosen to go out of business rather than make the good decisions necessary to survive.
Pulling back the microscope, I realized that the retail phenomenon we’re currently enduring is nothing more than life on its typical course of evolution. Our world is changing, culture is ever-evolving and technology is altering almost everything about how we live, shop, communicate, create and problem solve. We must evolve accordingly or get left behind. So, why are certain leaders refusing to embrace this and move into the future? Is it ignorance, arrogance or bonus-oriented motivations for short-term, short-sided results? Maybe it’s something else, but what?
- The Vision Of Retail 2020: On-Track Or Off-The-Tracks? – RetailTouchpoints
- Retailing 2020: Winning in a polarized world – Kantar
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing legacy retailers today? Why are retailers failing to take decisive leadership actions when recent history suggests that being unwilling to do so may lead to their own demise?