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How to communicate change

Change, autumn, winter, leaves, green, seasons“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama

Do you recall growing up with the tried and trusted seven Ps model – an extension of McCarthy’s four Ps? The one where price, product, process, people, place, physical, and promotion created the near perfect framework by which we could neatly frame all variables into a grouping that made sense and largely worked for us.

It was very much the testament of consultants and business leaders around the world for decades, providing the skeleton for many a retail and business strategy for years. Then when we added Porter’s competitive forces and threw in a bit of Sigma Six – we had the formula for interpreting the most complex to most rational of business models.

Fearlessly predicting consumer types, retail distribution, and differentiation, pricing strategy, and product placement in a model whereby the consumer activity on the island of Australia (and globally) gave us relatively predictable retailer behaviour.

Our cities expanded, our roads housed department stores, supermarkets, shopping centres, and burgeoning speciality shops. Our week was entirely predictable, we could tell fairly accurately our busy and quiet retail days, knew our manufacturers more by name than URL.

Retailers placed products in shops more by foot traffic enablers than any insight into consumers, and our management models reflected the world as we lived.

Adaptation to change was as important, although nowhere near as dramatic as we see and our future generations will see.

Now we can score well in many of those traditional measurements and not have a business model positioned to accelerate into the changes I speak about.

Shopping from pastime to real time.

Now we speak of consumer profiles, speed, real time, obsolesce, omni-channel, pop up retail, s-commerce, m-commerce, the customer journey, the line between makers to sellers to buyers evaporating.

The role of data, in aggregate, in real time, through insights, and this fast turbulent paradigm changing world.

CEOs losing sales to an enemy they can’t see or might not recognise if they could.

From shops on the corner to shops in our hand, splintering many of our traditional methodologies and ways to make sense.

Technology as the orchestra conductor, retailers as the orchestra, and an audience with less bandwidth for the score being played.

Recently I wrote about innovation and it is innovation in the context of this new order of retailing that we consider, because even the innovative idea has a shorter attention span that its predecessor.

So if I had to audaciously think of a model to somehow corral this new paradigm into a frame it might revolve around the letter ‘C’ in building business fitness.

Understanding an organisations capability and appetite for:

Change – Understanding who and how regarding an appetite for change. Who of our leaders will be less intuitively driven by maintaining the status quo, their influence and intent?

Connected – We simply live increasingly in a connected world, no channel or communication to a customer works in isolation – they must be seamless and integrated.

Communication – less the world of telling, more the world of listening and connecting – brands to hearts, product to people, memorable experiences to everyone.

Consumer – Customer – Person at the centricity end. Understand them, build your business around them and be flexible and fast enough to move slightly in front of them.

Contagious – Are our people contagious with the energy in working with us? Are we crusaders or passengers?

Consistent – The currency of retail, lots of excitement, relevance, and above all always get the basics right. Just be a consistently great retailer. Out of stocks, on core, and promotional range products makes the promise just that.

Community – The tribe, your followers, and advocates. From the high street to a click away – the physical to virtual communities, opinion influencers and from receivers of content to creators, distributors, and contributors.

Capital – Where we spend our innovation resource, incubation, technology, less for the ROI, much more for the ROCE (return on customer experience).

Commitment – Just laser focus, high standards, quality (and this I believe is slipping for some of our retailers – reducing costs) and attention to detail across the branded touch points and their deployment.

Capability – What are we the greatest at and what are we just playing at when it’s really not our thing?

We would also look at courage, caution (risk appetite) and this fluid interactive, approach helps us understand how well placed an organisation is to be even business fitter among the turbulent ocean that is the world of retailing today and tomorrow.

Happy Fit retailing

Brian Walker is founder and CEO of retail consulting company, Retail Doctor Group. He specialises in the development and implementation of retail and franchise strategies. Brian can be contacted on (02) 9460 2882 or



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