I‘ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
– Maya Angelou

Last week, Retail Doctor Group hosted some of our country’s preeminent senior retail leaders including Peter Birtles CEO of Super Retail, Luke Baylis co-founder of Sumo Salad, and Steve Cox, CEO of Dymocks in our 2017 Fit for Business event.

While the central narrative was that of an imminent Amazon arrival, I listened to our speakers who effectively said that focusing on their own game was far more important than overly focusing on a competitor, who by all our insights works shows us a relatively overcooked entry hyperbole for certainly the next 2- 7 years. For further evidence  please refer to my earlier post.

However in navigating this new global and changing landscape, it certainly became evident that our speakers insights applied to more refined and better retail somewhat regardless of the competitor in their sights.

There were many “business fitness” tips, shared by our clients and speakers and here are a few that certainly sum up the market and mood we live in.

A relentless focus on the customer in all areas from fulfillment to post sale CRM. Easy to say and much harder to do – this is rapid transformation from the historical pleasant experience in the shops, as customer focus, to all aspects of the organisation pointed to one entity being the customer.

From first brand customer touch to a coordinated retail ecosystem building invitation to community.

My favourite quote from Peter Birtles: “Don’t sell a customer a fishing rod, help them catch the fish “– provide a solution. Focus on price and product transaction only at your peril – this is the domain of the Amazons of this world in time to come. Value add, build solutions, create a broader experience and you will be harder to copy or pick off.

Our way of saying this with our clients is “Interaction before transaction”. Build customer solutions – focus on value added to support increased customer experience and build emotional connections, especially in the physical store environment.

Speed, the last mile, transparent processes, databases, warranty, trust and security are the new currencies in the new retail economy. Build all these aspects into your end to end customer journey offering these attributes and emotional connectors to contribute to your retail success.

Understanding customers with deep insights, moving to customised modelling. Knowing your customer with precision is critical to underpin an agile and fast moving strategy deployment,

Culture matters more than ever – developing passionate people engaged and winning at all levels. Never more true is the phrase that retail is a people business than today and tomorrow. Retail shops are the important bastion to protect against the invaders, motivated generals at each bastion will win the war, unmotivated troops will fold.

Be simply brilliant on the basics. No more lines out of stock on the Tuesday, the shop without sales targets, the windows unchanged in three weeks, the sales team member who isn’t coached to goals. Focus on the basics as the foundation to leading in the war for customers hearts and minds.

Do what we have always done and get what we always had – in ever diminishing quantities,

Brian Walker is founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group Australia’s leading retail consulting and advisory group, and the Australian elected member of the global retail expert’s alliance Ebeltoft Group, (www.ebeltoftgroup.com) and can be contacted on (02) 9460 2882 or brian@retaildoctor.com.au.

First published Inside Retail on October 1, 2017