Three elephants walk into a bar…
It sounds like the start of a joke, but there is nothing funny about the impact that a few elephants can have on the retail landscape. While there are many, let’s start with the three named Google, Amazon and Walmart. But… here is the punchline: Google can put Amazon out of business. Amazon can put Walmart out of business. And, when the smart and resourceful folks in Bentonville are pressed, they can take a swing at any and every specialty retailer in the world. There is not a retail company that hasn’t written “WTF?” on a boardroom white board.
This is not new news, but it is happening at an even more accelerated pace than most anyone’s predictions. Consider these facts: 40%+ of discretionary holiday spending went through Amazon alone this past holiday. Retail traffic is reducing by a rate of 5-6% each year, every year. Approximately 10,000 retail doors will close within the next 12-18 months. Walmart is testing a frictionless, retroactive price matching that will make high-low pricing models extinct. Post Offices are being sold to real estate firms, Otto offers self-driving distribution trucks and I’m pretty sure I just saw a pig fly outside my window.
Yet, I am bullish on retail. Sure, people are buying more things in more ways and are more digitally entrenched and socially influenced than ever before, but there is reason to be bullish on actual retail stores, as well. Shopping is one of people’s favorite pastimes. For everyone who states that this is a dramatic time of change for retail, I would remind them that this is merely one more step in a history of dramatic changes from urban independent merchants to department stores to suburban chains to malls to specialty to big box category killers to omni-channel — oh my! As e-commerce sales increase dramatically, the role for stores will change, but they will be even more necessary.
Success through dramatic change goes back to a different elephant theory… one of never forgetting. That is, never losing sight of the core retail and merchandising dynamics that have built the most exciting sectors of all time. To some, shopping is a pastime and they want retail therapy. To some, shopping is a sport and they crave the hunt for deals. To some, shopping is a chore and they value frictionless service and speed. To some, shopping is an adventure and they need a curated experience. To all, retail IS needed and the art of aligning merchandise with interest and promotional motivation will never go out of style.
We’ve built a multi-billion dollar, retail growth machine focused solely on garnering an unfair share of business every hour of every quarter in the face of dramatic change and competitive pressures that would make even the circus seem uneventful.
If your retail business needs a boost, just reach out. Don’t let it be the elephant in the room.