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The Retail Revival: Reimagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism Hardcover – Mar 11 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 11 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118489675
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118489673
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.5 x 22.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 481 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #73,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Q: Why did you write The Retail Revival?
A: My sense in talking with business executives across North America was that many believed that what we were going through in the retail industry was a “bad cycle” being driven largely by the economic turmoil of 2008. I felt there were far more deep and fundamental shifts taking place that weren’t being discussed. It seemed to me (and my research confirmed it) that many of the ideologies and paradigms that the retail industry has lived with over the last 50 years were coming undone. I wanted to write a book that shed light on that.

Q: You say in the book that you regard the transition the retail industry is going through as a “revival” and not a “revolution”. What do you mean by that?
A: Revolutions always bring change but it isn’t always positive. But in this case, I really do believe that the change is positive for the industry. I don’t regard the last 30 or so years of retail as being very inspired.

Q: The book asserts that the broader implication for retailers is that being “average” at what you do is no longer viable and that retailers need to become remarkable in order to survive. But if everyone becomes remarkable, doesn’t remarkable just become the new average?
A: I get asked this question a lot and I’m not sure it’s the right question to ask. The real question is, why was it ok to be average in business over the last 50 years. Moreover, how was it possible to be hugely successful while being average? The truth is, it was tough to fail over the last half century. But that’s not the case anymore and the brands and retailers that survive the transition are going to be operating on an entirely different level and according to different rules. Many simply won’t make the transition. So, remarkable won’t simply become the new average – it will become the price of entry for survival.

Q: How does your own professional background come through in this book?
A: I’ve been very fortunate in my career to work across a huge number of disciplines. I have been a corporate trainer, franchise salesperson, store designer, marketer, store operator, general manager and a few other things in between. It’s given me the ability to speak several different retail languages, which really helped inform the content of the book.

Q: What’s the one, biggest piece of advice you’d give to a senior leader of a brand or retail company today?
A: We are living in times of exponential change. Incremental improvement won’t cut it anymore. You need to completely reimagine what you do through an entirely different lens. That doesn’t mean drop your current business model or customer set, but it does mean dedicating time to thinking beyond today. The only way you can truly cope with the disruption going on in the market is if you’re the one causing it.

From the Inside Flap

Traditional retail is becoming increasingly volatile and challenged as a business model. Brick-and-mortar has shifted to online, while online is shifting into pop-up storefronts. Virtual stores in subway platforms and airports are offering new levels of convenience for harried commuters. High Street and Main Street are becoming the stuff of nostalgia. The Big Box is losing ground to new models that attract consumers through their most-trusted assistant—the smartphone. What's next? What's the future for you—a retailer—who is witnessing a tsunami of change and not knowing if this means grasping ahold of new opportunity or being swept away?

The Retail Revival answers these questions by looking into the not-so-distant retail past and by looking forward into a future that will continue to redefine retail and its enormous effect on society and our economies. Massive demographic and economic shifts, as well as historic levels of technological and media disruption, are turning this once predictable industry—where "average" was king—into a sea of turbulent change, leaving consumer behavior permanently altered. Doug Stephens, internationally- renowned consumer futurist, examines the key seismic shifts in the market that have even companies like Walmart and Procter & Gamble scrambling to cope, and explores the current and future trends that will completely change the way we shop.

The Retail Revival provides no-nonsense clarity on the realities of a completely new retail marketplace—realities that are driving many industry executives to despair. But the future need not be dark. Stephens offers hope and guidance for any businesses eager to capitalize on these historic shifts and thrive.

Entertaining and thought-provoking, The Retail Revival makes sense of a brave new era of consumer behavior in which everything we thought we knew about retail is being completely reimagined.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I like the terms "high fidelity" and "convenience" in this book. They explain a lot why many retailers fail. Basically, if retailers want to survive in this business world, they must go to either one of the two extreme end of the scale. It's not about the prestige. It's about making money. If one simply focuses on selling cheap and convenient products, he has an equal level of profitability as a real estate agency.

The book also describes new consumer's behaviors. Now we're more likely buying stuff online than visiting actual stores. Also, we tend to choose products that reveal our personalities and life styles.

A good book to read
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Format: Hardcover
I don't often run around quoting books I've just read, but this one is an exception. Doug Stephens warns retailers that things will never return to "normal" but points out all the wonderful opportunities becoming available to retailers who think creatively and act boldly.

A few key points that struck me:

- Average retailers will die. You need to decide whether your store will offer a "high fidelity" experience (one that is very engaging and satisfying on a personal level) or ultra-convenient. Nothing in between will be able to compete for long.

- Mediocre staff in retail will no longer work. You need to hire people who are as excited by your vision as you are, and give them the tools and training they need to excel.

- Engagement is the new mass advertising, and it is every bit as annoying. Do you really want to "engage" with your toilet paper manufacturer? We are being bombarded with requests to "engage" with brands, but they aren't offering much (if anything) of value in return. I'm reluctant to even enter contests any more because I don't want to fill my friends' Facebook streams with claims that I Like product x.

- You need to figure out when and where a customer is most likely to care about your product and be there at the right time. He gives the example of Tesco in South Korea, realizing that people there worked long hours, bookended by long commutes, so they had little time for grocery shopping. So they set up a virtual store on subway station walls that replicated images of what was on the store shelves. Customers with the Tesco app on their phones could just point them at the products they wanted to order, and schedule to have the groceries delivered shortly after they got home.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just read the Retail Revival for the second time. I believe that as we move into increasingly complex "retail times", this book will serve you well. An easy read, without being overly analytical, the book does a great job explaining what got us here and some strong signals as to how the industry will be polarizing into the future (hint: don't aim for the "middle").

Retail is notoriously short sighted. Reading this may just help you see a bit further and give you hope for the possibility of a bright retail future.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa2e5cfb4) out of 5 stars 37 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2d8dd80) out of 5 stars Doug Stephens, A Retailing Philosopher...with pratical ideas. March 21 2013
By Jose Ernesto Passos - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Retail Revival is a great book to understand the social, demographic, technological and economic trends that are changing the world in the last 30 or 40 years from the perspective of someone who is in businesses that deal with the general public. It is not a how to book, but a book that presents ideas and concepts that are used (or misused) by marketing and retail professionals and how they have been impacted by the current state of things like, social media, internet, demographics...

One of its key ideas is that what is happening in the current Developed World Economy is not only caused by the recent economic crisis, but is the product of a series of changes:
- some technological, like the brutal explosion in information available to consumers and the new media where consumers can post their opinions and impact marketing actions in unexpected ways.
- others are demographical in nature, like the quantity of households of single people, single parents and so on.
- the new internet retailers with new capacities regarding their ability to understand their customers through their systems (like Amazon here!)
- the destruction of valuable blue collar positions by outsourcing to poor countries and increase the income inequality.
In summary, economic power is changing hands...(from Walmart to Amazon) the big retailers are becoming history. New organizations are being born and becoming successful as the generations of customers are changing. (The baby bomers are retiring...)

It is a book to get new insights and improve your vision on what is changing that impacts your business. Doug Stephens not only analyses the recent past, but also identifies some of the new directions that retail companies should look into to create their new future. These are the most difficult to evaluate, for many ideas will have to be invented or discovered by entrepreneurs around the world, and when we talk about innovation its easier to see and understand them when they become history.

The book is well written, sometimes you will feel like as Doug Stephens is in the room giving a lecture on the subject.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2d8dfcc) out of 5 stars The Shape of Retail To Come May 29 2013
By John Polyzoides - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first half of Doug Stephens' book fills in the socioeconomic and political background to the retail environment we find ourselves saddled with today. This discussion serves to provide a solid context for his later projections on the shape of retail to come. The good news he brings and clearly marks out is that the next 5 years will witness an utter transformation in the world of retail. This book is rich in detailing and illuminating cutting edge technologies, ideas and new theories that in many cases will revolutionize the marketplace. Stephens pushes the futurist envelope to the very edge and provides a much needed toolkit of actionable insights. I particularly enjoyed his discussion of a retail future defined by `surfaces and devices' rather than channels.

Stephens' book reaffirmed my belief that a considerable number of today's retailers sitting pretty or in most cases, not so pretty, in stores ill-suited to our new realities, need to quickly transition to more creative and experiential uses of space. The future belongs to those who best understand today's critical triad of space, experience and branding.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2d8df90) out of 5 stars The middle-classes stats Jan. 4 2014
By Fernando Monteiro - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book starts with the position that the demographics in America that led to the success of business such as Wal-Mart have been radically and irreversibly changed. Well, either they didn't or need re-interpretation because Wal-Mart is still a roaring success and expanding to other countries such as China. But this book is interesting in which it anticipates changing purchasing habits, the effects of automation, total personalisation of service, and the internet which opens many doors to imagination. In the whole its a good book to read which can make you think and enrich you.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa30602a0) out of 5 stars Imaginative read July 17 2015
By D. Saverino - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Doug Stephens receives top grades for imagination, whether his predictions will come true is questionable. There is no doubt that the retail landscape is changing, however I am not sure that is is changing in the way that the author predicts. Full body scanners and face recognition software in stores may be a reason to avoid shopping in a retail outlet for most, however Mr Stevens feels that this is the wave of the future.
It is not all doom and gloom for brick and mortar retail. A recent study by Scott Galloway, founder of L2 Research and a professor at the NYU Stern School of Business, indicates that “Amazon cannot survive as a pure-play retailer." in fact, retail occupancy in the US is at an all time high with rent rates at their highest level ever. Amazon's attempt to break into Omni channel is purely a survival technique that may prove too costly in the end.
Social media will revolutionize retail in the future and the true survival of retailers will be connected its ability to master the art of social media cohesion.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3060798) out of 5 stars Thought provoking and inspiring July 15 2015
By Steve K. - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Several years after the book was written the future is unfolding as predicted. But it's only the beginning of a titanic shift in the way businesses and consumers interact. I'd call this a must read for fans of Tipping Point, Blue Ocean Strategy and similar seminal business books written in an accessible style. I love the kindle edition links to videos and online resources.