Without a doubt retail has been in turmoil for sometime, everywhere we look from the traditional High Street, to those household name Department Stores that at one time seemed invincible - its all coming apart.
They tell us the reason it's all falling apart is because of high rent/rates, yet today retail and office property is seen by investors as nothing other than a low cost commodity.
If it's not the rent/rates argument it's the old chestnut of blaming 'online'.
We all know that physical retail as was - is no more, because the world around it and the enforced habits of consumers due to Covid everywhere has already changed.
We see it it daily in our news feeds and social interactions, especially following the 2020 pandemic, and the recent festive trading period.
Prior to this pandemic physical retail has been going through an enforced review around how (or even if) they have a future in today's always on, digitally connected, socially savvy and 'I want it now' impatient consumer.
One thing we have witnessed is how retail brand after retail brand is either folding forever, or being reinvented by it's new owners in a way that we always considered 'incremental change' with a protectionist legacy mindset by the previous owners.
Today we are seeing heritage retail brands losing out on the high st and the brand being transferred into the online space as a pure-play retail brand.
The Evans brand will continue to trade online, following news today of its sale to plus-size specialist City Chic for about £23m. Arcadia administrators Deloitte announced the sale of the plus-size brand’s ecommerce and wholesale business to the City Chic Collective this morning – and said that there was also “significant” interest in all of the group’s brands.
Of course the pandemic has shifted consumer behaviour into the online space due in the main to local and national lockdown restrictions. Those companies that weren't prepared lost out, and of course those that could pivot or adapt managed to survive.
However, is simply setting up or energising an eCommerce website really transformation for the future of commerce - or is being online more than just a website?
Access to the consumer has never been easier, it's cost is at the lowest in marketing history mainly thanks to the phenomenal explosion of social networks around the globe.
So if a brand/company wanted to reinvent itself it must first take a serious note of those changing behaviours and recognise that inertia is firmly in the hands of today's consumer.
Daily there are more brands/companies (your current suppliers) electing to go where they never went before which is to build a direct relationship with 'your' customer' and look to cut you out.
And the rocket fuel that's helping them get there is the prolific use of social media to help educate, inform, listen, learn, and most likely transact.
Social commerce doesn't require a consumer to be 'driven' to your website, it doesn't require a consumer to spend an age going through your funnel today, that was yesterday!!
The reality is you could be buying your next car from social platforms like 'TikTok', Instagram, Weibo, WeChat, Alibaba or others that are constantly evolving the commerce landscape.
So what can all channel retailers learn from where the industry is going, what can they learn from huge successes that don't yet seem to be impacting the 'Why'?
China is leading the way, as such if you and your leadership team don't have a focus, watching brief and looking to test and trial what these huge companies are doing in the biggest market in the world then you might as well pack up now.
Social platforms like 'TikTok' might seem yet another millennial or Gen Z fad to you, but if I told you that in 2019 the app was downloaded more than any of the Facebook stable of apps including Instagram.
Most of the live-streaming campaigns today are simply sales pitches. Content quality is not too different from the most traditional TV infomercial.
Even for brands with the largest live-streaming audience, such as Xiaomi, Adidas and Kiehl’s. This used to make sense since traditionally live-streaming target particular audiences who are price-sensitive and have lots of free time.
Rear view mirrors are for looking at where you have been and what's behind. The windscreen is to allow you to see where you're going, and that Sat Nav can help you get there but you still have to do the driving - for now!
So if your leadership team spend more time looking in the rear view mirror don't be surprised when you run into bumps in the road, which will also end up with a crash.
“Companies that put e-commerce at the heart of their business strategies are prepared for the post-COVID-19 era,” said Yomi Kastro, founder and CEO of Inveon. “There is an enormous opportunity for industries that are still more used to physical shopping, such as fast-moving consumer goods and pharmaceuticals.” “In the post-COVID-19 world, the unparalleled growth of e-commerce will disrupt national and international retail frameworks,” said Carlo Terreni, President, NetComm Suisse eCommerce Association. “This is why policymakers should adopt concrete measures to facilitate e-commerce adoption among small and medium enterprises, create specialized talent pools and attract international e-commerce investors.”