The Retail Revival: Reimagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism Hardcover – Mar 11 2013
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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 assistantthe smartphone. What's next? What's the future for youa retailerwho 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 industrywhere "average" was kinginto 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 marketplacerealities 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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.