1970s were great, but I don't want to relive the shopping experience today.

Is Retail Still Stuck in the Seventies?

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The 1970s were great, but do you want to shop there today?

Retail is getting hammered by online merchants such as Amazon. We’ve seen many great retailers sink, and many more are showing signs of taking on water. As Jim Tompkins says, it’s time to respond to the titans. But where is that response?

Gene Marks went looking for it but all he found was the 70s.

Shopping in the 70s - Agony! Why are things still the same nearly 50 years later?
Why are retailers lagging in transforming our shopping experience?

He writes at Fox Business News about shopping today at Macy’s versus shopping with his mom back in the seventies:

“When I was about ten years old my mom used to take me to a Macy’s department store on Saturday mornings. We would walk around and around. She would try stuff on or make me try stuff on. There were always counters where special items were on sale. She would always buy something. And when she did we would go to the counter and she would pay with her credit card. The store assistant would wrap things up in a Macy’s bag. Sounds excruciating, doesn’t it?  Oh, it was.”

He laments that shopping today at Macy’s is much the same. None of the promise of a retail revolution driven by tech has come to fruition. Marks goes on to suggest some opportunities retailers should be capitalizing on.

“Where are the promised “beacons” that will notice me as soon as I walk into the store and alert my mobile device with bargains and offers based on my preferences and prior purchases? Why are the shop assistants still standing behind counters and cash registers instead of roaming the floors with tablets that are not only ringing up sales but recommending accessories and other items based on my preferences?”

“How come, with all the talk of Apple Pay, Android Pay, PayPal, Square and Samsung Pay I’m still whipping out my old-school credit card every time I want to make a purchase? And why is it that, even with all the new chip cards and warnings from the credit card industry, I’m still swiping like my mom did decades ago? Wait – what happened to the promise of those RFID (Radio Frequency ID) tags that would be attached to every item for instant inventorying and checkout through a scanner?”

I recommend reading the full article: Why Is Retail Still Stuck in 1976?

Disruption Is Here, Retailers Need to Adapt and Respond

Coincidentally, at this week’s Retail Innovation Conference in New York, the topic of disruption and the lack of response from retailers was a major theme. Kasey Lobaugh, Deloitte’s Chief Retail Innovation Officer, lamented retailers’ blatant disregard and outright denial of the disruption that is imminent.

“I’d have retail executives say to me, they’d say: ‘Disruption, nah. Look, I’ve been in this business for 40 years and it’s always been cut-throat, it’s always been tough, it’s always been competitive,’” Lobaugh said. “I’ve had retail executives look at me and say that there is nothing different today.”
Source: Do or Die: How retailers can innovate in an age of disruption, Kelsey Lindsey

The are a lot things retailers can do, as Gene Marks hinted at above, but the fundamental approach has to change. Retailers have to “turn inside out.” Instead of being focused on their product and internal operations, they need focus and organize around the consumer. As Aaron Dane of Point Inside put it:

“…Retailers should look to become shopper-centric in every aspect of their business. This focus should be applied when developing a new technology, a new way to market to the customer, or even when brainstorming a new store concept.” (Source: Do or Die)

Retailers need technology that not only enhances the shopper’s experience in the store, but that enables an entire consumer-centric ecosystem to support the delivery of that experience. Enterprise-centric software still based on thinking from the 70’s won’t do either.

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Bruce Jacquemard