Every time you turn around you are confronted with yet another opinion, most of them from people who have no retail credibility, little retail experience outside their narrow viewpoint and often with an axe to grind.
Technology continues its unstoppable invasion into every crevice of retail like an aggressive cancer with no cure. And social media creates impacts and reverberations that have little to do with the levers that create profit.
The net result is that retailers are drowning in NOISE! Most of it irrelevant but none the less distracting if not damaging to clear, concise, productive decision making.
A retailer only needs to answer one question – “How do you make the customer’s life better as a direct result of their experience with you today”.
If you can’t answer that question simply and succinctly, then all the information in the world isn’t helping you, it’s blinding you.
Success in retail is not down to being busy doing ‘lots of stuff’, it’s about spending time, energy and capital where it is productive.
Retail productivity is ONLY about mutually profitable relationships – the so-called ‘win-win’.
In the customer’s eyes, you must deliver to them by being the best that you can be at something that matters to them. By making their life better than the next retailer can, you create a strategic advantage that allows you to extract the outcome of enhanced profitability – and you win.
Everything else in the mix is an enabler, an enhancer or an inescapable cost of doing business.
Most people operating in the world of physical retail today – and for that I mean real shops – are caught in a process maze that has little to do with energising the correct levers to answer that essential question in a manner that helps them create sustainable profit gains.
If you fail to deliver – every day – an experience that makes the customer’s life better, you need to take time out to reimagine your offer.
Physical retail is not about unadulterated efficiency. Pureplay online and other forms of technology-enabled delivery systems will win that battle.
Customers seek more than that from stores. In this hyper-transactional world, increasingly depersonalised and desensitised by technology, shoppers crave the opposite of efficiency but need a powerful pay off for their subconscious investment beyond ease.
Contemporary success stories in retail all share one common theme. They make the experience that the customer values from them more human, more sensory, more enjoyable and ultimately more rewarding for the shopper and they reorganise the business around those key deliverables.
There are no shortage of opportunities to make a difference to the lives of retail shoppers today.
Arguably – in the frantic, stressed out, angst-ridden world we live in – there have never been more opportunities to deliver something powerful.
You just have to take the time to step back, take a deep breath and find your mojo by answering the question: How will you make the customer’s life better as a direct result of their experience with you, for all the days to come?
Peter James Ryan is chief executive navigator at Red Communication Australia, and has 25 years of marketing and business experience.