For quite some time, we’ve thought about stores, catalogs and the internet as distinct shopping entities. Today the blended channel is the only channel.
For quite some time, we’ve run our retail businesses as a loose affiliation of vertical departments and systems. Today we see that brands are horizontal and that silos belong on farms.
For quite some time, we’ve talked about customers “going online.” Today, most customers practically live online and there is a “nowness” to marketing that we’ve never experienced.
For quite some time, we’ve said that product is everything. Today, product is clearly important, but experience has a way of making product secondary.
For quite some time, the front door of our store was literal and faced the street or the interior corridor of the mall. Today–increasingly–it is often virtual. And dynamic. And you’re probably holding it in your hand right now.
For quite some time, we started to believe that physical stores were dying and that most categories would be revolutionized by “online only” brands. Well, physical retail IS becoming different, but it’s not going away. And–plot twist–pure play retail is on its death bed.
For quite some time, we’ve evaluated store closings on the straightforward four-wall profit contribution and costs of exiting a lease. Today, a physical location is merely one manifestation of a brand, serving to fulfill a digital intent while also serving as a gateway to e-commerce–a relationship portal of sorts.
For quite some time, marketing was mostly one-size-fits-all. Today, as the world grows ever noisier, it’s harder to detect the signal amidst the clutter, the cacophony and the downright boring. The burden has shifted to becoming more relevant, more personalized, more remarkable.
At NRF, we’re already hearing some speakers make some or all of these points as if they are revelations, when they are merely after the fact observations and, more likely than not, strong evidence of a lead from behind strategy.
The new retail ecosystem has been coming into shape for more than a decade. The most salient and actionable points have been obvious for years. That is, if one were really paying attention and truly committed to a plan of action.
As much as I might hope that the really juicy and useful stuff were shared at a conference in a room filled with the competition, alas, my experience tells me otherwise.