By Brian Walker
CEO & Founder, Retail Doctor Group

“Willpower is the key to success. Successful people strive no matter what they feel by applying their will to overcome apathy, doubt or fear.” – Dan Millman 

Have you ever wondered why some businesses are doing so well in this current year and others not?  Is it simply down to the pandemic? Yes, that’s a factor, without doubt. However, the other key factor is preparedness for the great fourth revolution of technology that we are now beginning. 

And with it comes a dramatic changefast approaching on the blended retail offers. Investment decisions will differ. Organisations will evolve to underpin this new science revolution. What is more, we will measure success in a very different manner. Some will be prepared, and others will be apathetic to this change 

Such is the nature of change and our response accordingly 

Business values predicated upon future value will emerge, where their agility and adroit manipulation of the science of retail are more appreciated.  

The very nature of the channels in which we buyis transforming quickly, creating an even greater focus on a true customer journey (predictive, personalised and accumulative). Return on assets employed may well give way to Return on Apathy employed for our leaders as those illprepared for these changes will simply not be able to mobilise quickly enoughApathy and inertia are bedfellows, whilst the transformative changes upon us are the anathema of apathy. 

The much quoted “kodak” moment may not be the only such example as retailers owning existing channels in either physical or pure playnot investing in blending real consumer understandings with a growing arena of data. Refurbishing physical shops alone probably won’t cut it over the next 5-20 yearsPhysical shops will be less about the buyer behaviourper se or the postconsumption connections, but more about the emotionalised human experience within a blendedconnected and curated brand story. Technology will ensure (and already does) that the channel journey is no longer a segmented or dissected pathway, but rather a seamlessfacilitated and suggestive journey. 

The fascinating and insidious nature of this changeas we move into the 4th industrial revolution, is creating a chasm between the apathetic, the bewildered and those students of what is to comeAnd fothis latter group, their ROAE score will be significantly lowAs Andy Groves of INTEL said, “Only the paranoid survives – such is the speed of change! 

So what does it take to surviveand reduce your ROAE score? Here is what we have consistently seen our best CEOs’ lead 

  • Get the A team together – no one is an island, and the best CEOs understand the role of advisors with solid acumen.
  • Be a student of these fastmoving trends and understand, above all, what is real and what is hype 
  • Differentiation is no longer a strategic point of difference. It is now a hygiene factor although much less so on the foundation pieces of product and site 
  • You should constantly ask:
    • “How do we build mobility and agility into our unique offers?”
    • How do we build a truly blended offer?” (inverting the classic pyramid if you will)
    • Do we have the internal culture for risk taking and boldness or one that is motivated to play safety first?”  
    • What do we need to knowwith real insightsabout our customer pathology and what can we do with this knowledge?” Knowing where your customer lives, genders, age and transactional history is interesting. Nevertheless, knowing the “why” is the frontier for real progress. 
  • Invest in data, systems-based architecture with nimble applications embedded & real consumer insights. 
  • Build agile design thinking strategy, deploy for now and into the future 

Data makes it my world. Data will change the shape, timing, quality of every consumer decision in the very future. You should also accept that progress is incremental at first since there is no magic nirvana. However, as technology, media and retail collide in very developed blended omnichannel brandswe need to meet this change at the gateway points. 

And finally, retail is still retail at the end of the day and having people in your team that understand the technical aspects is key. As I once said to myself many years ago, “A good strategy poorly deployed wont pull the skin off a rice pudding”Knowing how to drive stock turns, GMROI, and so on is still undoubtedly critical. The best does or they have people around them that do.

Eyeing off the ‘moment of truth” puts all the good preparation to waste. 

Do you know your organisations’ ROAE score? This is above all the starting point to the transformation journey. 

Brian Walker is CEO of Retail Doctor Group.