How can companies avoid the seven deadly sins of retail laggards?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion, is an excerpt of a current article from the Platt Retail Institute’s Quarterly Journal of Retail Analytics.
For years we’ve talked about the train coming that is now steamrolling some of our country’s most iconic retail brands. I blame the leaders at the top of every company that is spiraling into oblivion. They were warned and they didn’t listen.
Having been in these trenches for a very long time, here are my observations on the seven deadly sins of retail leadership:
Arrogance. It’s the only path that they know, thus the only path that exists.
Selfishness. Retirement is coming and the short-term balance sheet is all that matters to get that bonus and get out while there’s still time. To them, this storm is someone else’s problem.
Complacency. It’s too late. The ship is too huge, as are the problems. The time to start changing how they think, work together, plan their offensive moves, reward brave thinking, and evolve was years ago.
Incest. A systematic belief that talent should always be cultivated and elevated from within based on an outdated set of leadership screeners and company “fit,” rather than subject matter expertise, vision and the guts to challenge norms. As a result, everything remains the same.
Narcissism. Rather than caring about the customer first and foremost, decisions are based on the retailer’s image, their needs, what they want from the customer and how to get it from them for their own purposes — regardless of the true cost.
Apathy. They are unable — and unwilling — to get inside the shoes of their customers, to listen, to understand, to respond and to create checkpoint methods for success. Also, they have an innate inability to grasp that this as an ongoing, iterative process.
Ignorance. Looking at what is happening from a narrow four Ps (product, price, place, promotion) and transactional perspective, instead of the wide-angle lens of what is happening in the world, within culture, at retail as a whole and throughout their category. Thus strategies and decisions are uninformed by critical influencers and easily disrupted by competition.
DISCUSSIONS QUESTIONS: Do you agree that old-school leadership practices, short-term views and other issues have prevented retailers from changing in response to the major shifts affecting the industry? Does digital retailing present a bigger psychological hurdle versus past shifts?