I’m always amazed when, in 2017, someone tells me “we’ve been doing it this way for 40 years!” I grew up working for a 100+ year old family business, and that type of thinking isn’t conducive to long term success.
Recently our marketing team sent out an email about all of the recent retail failures we’ve seen in the last year. Amazon and other e-commerce platforms + retailers who’ve already designed an amazing online to showroom transition have put the hurt on traditional retail.
These companies had billions at their disposal to combat the trend of their own seemingly inevitable deaths, yet they still haven’t gotten it right. In many cases, by the time they realized they needed to change and things were no longer “fine”, it was too late.
Perhaps more interesting is that recently, Warren Buffett sold off close to $1 billion worth of Walmart stock, citing increased difficulty in the retail industry. He said this was largely thanks to e-commerce in general and Amazon, who he mentioned by name, in particular.
Here’s the list we sent:
Target is another big player seeing the ground slowly falling beneath them.
Our industry is in the midst of a seismic shift, Target CEO Brian Cornell said just the other day, acknowledging that we’re in a new era of retailing. In an effort to compete with e-commerce rivals, Target is spending $3 billion to try to close the gap between digital and in-store shopping.
Kroger, the largest retail grocer in America, has changed their entire approach. Matthew Groom, General Manager of Kroger Technology recently said this:
“Companies are iterating not in years but in days,” Groom said. “We’re in a digital arms race. We’re a 133-year-old grocery chain that’s competing with companies that didn’t exist a year ago
What’s it all mean? Everything works until it doesn’t. Change in retail has been here for years, and those who don’t evolve become obsolete.
The solution to this isn’t to recreate Amazon. Nor is it about spending blindly on more advertising or lead generation.
Customers are like water. They seek and find the path of the least resistance. The solution is focusing on the entire customer experience. When you’re selling a commodity, and your customer can buy the same thing from competitors – which is the situation for almost all retailers – customer experience is the only advantage.
How easy is it for a customer to buy from you? How connected are your online and in home experiences? Does your sales team follow up with customers, or do they force customers to follow up with them? Are you employing modern techniques like social selling?
Obviously what worked 10 – or even 5 – years ago doesn’t apply today. Evolve to cater to modern customers and you’ll thrive, don’t – and you’ll just be another name on a list of store closures.