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10th March 2020
The one thing that is 100% certain for retail is that there will continue to be change and probably at an even faster pace than we have experienced so far.
In the 1960’s, Harrold Wilson said “A week is a long time in politics”. In today’s ever-changing world, a decade is a very long time.
So, I am going to be so bold as to say I don’t know the future of retail in the 2020’s. And I suggest you heed Andrew Marr’s advice on predicting elections of “cock an eyebrow, smile politely and turn your back”, if anyone does tell you they do know the future of retail.
I can’t tell you what is going to happen so I will share my 4 top tips for thriving in retail whatever the decade gives us to deal with.
Yet the retail scene has “also ran” brands that are often in the middle ground of their sector. They do well when the whole sector is buoyant yet struggle when there is change in their sector and a contraction in consumer spending.
The way to outperform your sector is to know what difference you deliver for your customers and keep a laser focus on delivering it.
Tesco is a great example of a brand who lost focus and suffered decline in sales and profit. A tough turnaround programme centred around the things it has always stood for – range, price and loyalty; has delivered results culminating in higher sales growth and a reported 34% increase in operating profit last spring.
A rising tide might lift all ships, but don’t just wait for the tide to come in. Know what you stand for and use that clarity to fuel your own growth.
The aim for all retailers is to optimise spend on the supporting activities to get complete them as efficiently as possible and push released resources to driving growth. Minimising time in the Non-value add wasted time is a good source of productivity quick wins.
Stand back and look at your operation. Are you getting the balance right? What opportunities are there to free up time from essential, supporting tasks to deliver more of what makes you different and drive growth.
Your differential will remain constant and the tactics needed at any one time to deliver it will vary.
Keep testing, learning, developing and innovating. There is a whole genre of business books on the benefits of failure and all are based on the principle that successful businesses understand the context they are operating in, try new things and learn quickly.
Consider how you can bolster your expertise in your current model with additional expertise from external advisors and your board members.
No doubt more things than we imagine will be different by the end of this new decade. My recipe for success is: stay agile, keep close to your customers and consistently deliver your differential.