January 14-29: From New York to Miami
After attending both the National Retail Federation’s Big Show and FMI’s Mid-Winter Meeting over the last two weeks, my perspective that sums up the situation for both retailers and brands is simply this: the customer’s system of buying is replacing your system for selling.
We are entering the next era of Retail Reckoning. "Day One" is now a mantra for everyone. Volatility is the new normal. Serial innovations, linked by electronic devices from smartphones to digital assistants, are shocking the system. Individual IoT devices are soon to be an interlaced mesh. The next digital revolution, 5G, begins initial deployment this year. The Intelligent Cloud and the Intelligent Edge will soon be a reality.
It’s complicated and hard!
The Path to Purchase is now a useable, digital trail captured in Big Data. Algorithms and ubiquitous devices are the tools for building, understanding and better serving today’s always-connected consumer. Combined, they provide consumers, brands and retailers with both a physical and virtual world of infinite possibilities. (Note: More than 80% of consumers now shop regularly or occasionally online, according to a 2017 Prosper Technologies consumer survey.)
“Technology is fundamentally changing all forms of marketing and marketing communication, not just the applications but the tools, structures and focus as well,” according to Dr. Don Schultz, Professor of Integrated Marketing Communications at the Medill School, Northwestern University. New tools mean new rules requiring a revisiting of the thought processes that, for years, have shaped the strategies and tactics of the consumer markets. To navigate the new Path to Purchase — the Thought Process — new thought has to go into the Process.
It’s complicated and hard, but it’s necessary!
Leadership and management can no longer rely on "old box" or even "outside the box" thinking. It's time to think in "new boxes." As Lewis Carroll noted, "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." But today, arriving at the wrong place, because you took a wrong road, is terminal. Thinking has become strategy, and thinking and strategy are now as much about knowing what not to do, and when not to do it, as it is knowing what to do and when to do it.
As a leadership and management team, one simple — terribly obvious — question should start your journey: “Is it better to be a disruptor, or wait to be disrupted?” To paraphrase hockey great, Wayne Gretzky, you need to skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it is. For leadership and management, that is the challenge: figuring out where the puck is going to be — and what strategies, tactics and technologies you'll need when it gets there.
Hail the Consumer!