Sharks in Retail: 4 Steps Towards Becoming a Disrupter

lsaville Apr. 2, 2018

Retail is seeing the most intense disruption in history with the rapid rise of eCommerce and the adoption of big data technologies. There have been winners and losers during this period, as some retailers have defied gravity to float to the top while others have wearily sunk to irrelevance.

We have seen countless retailers cling to their old business models and slowly topple out of existence. This is a fate that is only inescapable for those who refuse to act. In this particular fight for survival, inaction is the worst possible move.

In this blog post, we’re taking a closer look at four strategies retailers should consider as they look to reshape their business.

Focus on delighting your customers

The world in which customers live has changed; therefore, customer behavior and customer expectations have also changed. Business models that worked 20 years ago have become largely irrelevant in today’s technology-centric world. A key first step is to consider who your brand should be targeting followed by how you should be engaging with them. This applies to every step of the customer journey across acquisition, shopping experience, and non-shopping engagement. Retailers should actively seek out every opportunity to know and delight the customer.

Play to the strengths of your assets

Identify the core strengths of your brand and where the closest alignments are to today’s trends. Good examples of this core identity can be found in branding, exclusivity, customer service, store footprint, product quality, ease of use, eco-friendly, etc. Reinforce these core competencies and reintroduce them to the market. Remind your customers why they enjoy your brand and include a flare of relevance to today’s world.

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Don’t spread too thin

Start out with a small set of objectives and do them really well. This could be a coalescence around a particular product line, replatforming technology, remodeling stores, reworking supply chains, etc. Reestablish your brand around a simple message that feels authentic and do it really well. From the lessons learned in this first step, you will be emboldened to test new market areas.

Without data there is no success

As you build out your strategies, ensure data collection is intertwined throughout. This will provide the means to measure the effectiveness of your efforts and to test and learn. The data itself will become a crown jewel asset that can be leveraged to differentiate customer experiences and transform your business. First party data will provide insights into your customer behavior and give your business the means to interact with your customers at scale.

Applying these thought areas requires empowerment from the top levels of the business, including the chief executive and the board. Mobilize the thought leaders in your company and hire proven experts from outside the company to bolster your team. Instill these individuals with the authority and the resources to fundamentally disrupt your existing businesses.

There is an incredibly exciting opportunity on the horizon for retailers to rise to the occasion and reinvent themselves and to become leaders in the disruptive landscape of retail. For legacy retailers, real disruption starts internally. It is absolutely vital to act with speed and intent, making your brand a leader in the current wave of disruption and in the future disruptions to come.