The myth that “retail is dying” has held up remarkably well over the years. But all the paranoia, curiosity, or excitement surrounding the claim have misled us: Rather than dying, retail is simply undergoing a massive transformation.
It’s a transformation that’s overdue: The retail market is fiercely competitive and digital tools have made it even more so. Consumers now find it easier to shop around for alternatives and have become more demanding than they’ve ever been. That means brick and mortar stores can’t just continue with business as usual, present themselves like they always have, and offer mediocre services. They have to fulfill customers’ needs in order to stand out.
A Deloitte study from 2018 reinterprets the dominant narrative in a poetic way. To them, the impending “apocalypse” of retail serves as analogy to the Renaissance: Massive shifts in the economy, competition, and possibilities, all fueled by exponential advancements in technology.
Just like during the Renaissance, the transformation of retail is a clear break from the past—from old habits and conventional wisdom—that gives a great advantage to those who keep up: The agile, the bold, the innovative. It’s a challenge that will benefit some but be difficult for others: “To survive - and thrive - retailers will need to adapt their sales strategy and value proposition at the pace of the changing consumer and changing competition to succeed.”
“I believe that retail is only just getting started.”
In their “Global Retail Trends” report KPMG also stresses that digital breakthroughs have boosted customers’ expectations and put retailers under pressure. “We are quickly moving towards a reality in which everything happens in real-time. The natural outcome is that people want that instant gratification. This has had a deep impact on customer expectation.”
We share that sense of urgency—but not because we’re afraid that “retail is dying” but because we think it’s a great opportunity: For brands to become more vibrant, to breath life into their stores, to offer better customer service. In other words: To be bold and innovative.
Our vision reflects that: We want to help brands find and showcase their retail power in a way that fulfills the customers’ high expectations. We want to help our clients navigate the retail transformation.
Changes and challenges are never easy. We live by the philosophy that “the only constant is change”, and know that unpredictability is best faced with new approaches. To remain competitive, brands have to continually redefine their retail edge, especially how they create value for their customers. Keep moving and retail will be more vibrant than ever.
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