Big Brands Are Taking Big Bets on Retail

What it takes to reinvent the retail model - inside and out

An article published this week by Business Insider indicated that more than 5,300 stores are expected to close in 2019. But while many brands continue to close stores, many others, including big names across luxury, technology and fashion, are investing in retail’s future. They’re creating experiences that are unique, personalized, customer-centric, and social-media ready. To reinvent themselves, these companies are proving that they need to transform both inside and out.

To lead strategic shifts in retail, leaders must commit to three things:

  1. Articulating the vision and building momentum and enthusiasm around it

  2. Creating the right internal structures that support efficiency and growth, and

  3. Implementing a talent strategy that enables the organization to deliver to a new kind of customer and shift gears quickly.

What it takes to bring the retail vision to life

The mindsets and investments required for companies to drive the unique, personalized, and engaging experiences that are redefining the retail landscape include: 

Obsession with the customer

In addition to a significant financial investment, retailers’ renewed focus on building brand relationships via a unique and exciting experience requires a significant change effort. Leaders need employees who are obsessed with the customer and their experience – what he or she values, needs, feels, and thinks.  

Service-focused talent

Leaders need talent that can create connections – who can integrate and orchestrate their work across different departments to bring together solutions that best benefit the customer and their experience.  

Investment in data & analytics capabilities

Companies need to invest in developing talent and systems that harness the power of personal and industry data to drive a personalized experience that is unique and keeps the customer coming back for more.  The ability to provide one-of-a-kind products on demand will be the new normal for driving customer loyalty.  Employees will need to focus on developing new skills and capabilities as well as become adept at performing new jobs that may not have existed even a year ago. 

Commitment to technology

Companies must be willing to invest in technology internally as well as externally. To make retail outlets stand out from the ordinary and to curate unique spaces and experiences, every retail company needs to start thinking of themselves as a technology company – building a revenue-generating, product-focused technology backbone that enables both in-person and virtual experiences in new and creative ways. 

Despite the “retail apocalypse” that the headlines bemoan, many companies are actually investing in brick and mortar. And as more companies shift their retail strategy, forward-thinking leaders are aligning their external vision and internal structures so that they can serve the customer in ever more creative, lean and agile ways.  

To create personalized experiences, companies and their leaders need to win hearts and minds by thinking big, putting the customer front and center, unleashing the power of data, and aligning their internal organizations to support the rapid pace of change. Combined, these efforts can lead to deeper customer loyalty and engagement, more responsive brands, and a fundamental shift in the nature of retail itself.

Transformation Spotlight

Five creative approaches big brands are taking to evolve their retail model: 

Michelle Maksim