Consensus Advisors: Not in Kansas Anymore
Through a special
arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article
from Consensus Advisors, a boutique investment and advisory firm specializing
in the retail industry.
The business of retail has certainly changed. Sometimes
it seems a tornado of technology has landed us in a place that seems strangely
familiar, but so fantastical it could only be a dream.
The folks at the National
Retail Federation offered up glimpses of the totally new world we operate in
at their Retail Innovation & Marketing Conference,
INNOVATE 2011. The following describes just seven of these changes:
- Retail is no longer a location; it’s an experience: It used
to be the in-store experience or the online experience or the service. What’s
different now is retail is everywhere, anywhere, anytime, in no time. Thanks
to digital technology, shopping is no longer a discrete activity. Shopping
happens. (How’s that for a new bumper sticker?!)
- Value isn’t created by purchase; it’s created from access: In
a world where practically every product you could ever want is available
on Amazon, retailers no longer make money by helping people buy things. Retailing
is more about curating collections, making recommendations, and helping people
navigate to the best selection for them.
- Customers no longer want to own; they want to subscribe: With endless
choices and new options always emerging, sampling has become more desirable
than acquiring. Business models in which customers can join clubs or buy
subscriptions in order to access content or experiences, rent products, or
replenish smaller quantities fit customers’ new sensibility.
- Stores aren’t just categorized by product type; experience type
matters too: Drug stores now sell fresh produce; book sales at apparel
retailers are on the rise; restaurants are a popular new store amenity.
Shoppers now organize their store options in terms of the experiences they
want to have — price driven or great atmosphere or an efficient errand
or easy transaction.
- A purchase isn’t just a transaction; it’s a communication: With
cashless payments, emailed receipts, and subscription purchases, the retail
check-out process has become more than a one-time transaction. When they
pay, customers now give retailers the ability to access personal information
and to engage in ongoing communication.
- Mobile phones aren’t simply devices for talking; they’re
the Swiss Army knives of sales enablement: Customers now have a device
that they paid for themselves and which they have with them at all times.
Through it, retailers can do hundreds of things that make shopping easier,
faster, better, more fun, and social — it’s the ultimate sales
- Facebook isn’t just a social networking site; it’s a platform
for commerce: Facebook pages are the new websites. Facebook “likes”
are the new email addresses. Facebook friends are the new prospect pool.
Facebook “favorites” are the new recommendation engine. Facebook credits
are the new currency. It’s time to view Facebook for what it really is
— an integral part of business today.
These seven new dimensions paint a vivid picture of our new reality. There
is no yellow brick road and there is no going back home. But it’s clear —
we’re not in Kansas anymore.
Discussion Question: What trends — service, experience, mobile, social, etc. — touched on in the article will likely have the most meaningful effect on retailing in the years ahead?