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It is NPI’s mission to come along retailers and help them, not only with MAP, but also with the multiple challenges everyone is facing. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need help. Currently, we are working on something very exciting that we will share when complete but I can go ahead and say it will drastically further our mission of being an organization that partners with retailers to show them best practices needed to keep our beloved industry surviving and thriving.

Recently we stumbled upon an article by Doug Stephans, author of ‘Reengineering Retail: The Future of Selling in a Post-Digital World’. This article is packed full of nuggets that apply to all retail. Please read and begin positioning your business accordingly. Below is an excerpt from the article:

 

Physical retail will no longer be a channel for buying.

With the vast majority of our daily and weekly needs simply coming to us as necessary, the role and purpose of retail space will no longer be principally to sell products. Rather, these spaces will act as living, breathing physical portals into brand and product experiences. They will become places we go to learn, be inspired, see and try new things, experiment and co-create. Beyond mere consumption, we’ll go to these spaces for entertainment, education, connection and community. This is not to suggest that there will be no products for sale in these physical spaces, only that the emphasis will not be sales but rather on catalysing a relationship with the consumer that transcends the store. The way these spaces are planned, built, staffed, managed and measured will look and act nothing like the retail operations of today. My advice to retailers is to stop thinking “stores” and start thinking stories. Stop thinking “product” and start thinking productions.

There will be a retail refugee crisis.

Nearly 4.6 million Americans work in retail, making it the country’s number one employer. Indeed, in many developed countries retail represents one of the most, if not the most populous of industries. Amazon has already proven that it can build a store without cashiers. And cashiers are just the beginning. Robotic customer service staff, fully automated warehouses, bot-staffed call centres, driverless delivery trucks and even the displacement of store management by artificial intelligence are all clear and present realities. Any human being that doesn’t generate added value, either through creativity, expertise or intuition will be expendable. We can debate the morality and ethics of this endlessly but the certainty remains that retail workers will become the blacksmiths of their era.

As a retailer, you need to decide now which side of this line you’re going to stand on. If it’s with the robots, start investing in the technology now. If you choose people, prepare to pay for the very best in the market. There will be no alternative between the two.

The economic model for retail will implode.

If you’re fortunate enough to sell something no one else on earth sells you might dodge this bullet. If not, you better find a new way of making money. This is because the wholesale-to-retail model is coming to an inglorious end. Firstly, brands are fleeing the confines of wholesale distribution in unprecedented numbers, largely because they can and secondly because it just makes business sense to do so. Technology has advanced to the point where the ability for brands to reach consumers directly is not only possible, it’s preferable. Through vertical integration, brands cannot only better manage their margins but also their brand image and customer experience.

This will put retailers in a position where the brands they call “vendors” are also competitors for the same shopper. In essence, even if they win, they lose. By selling more products they only feed the enemy’s war chest. This sets up an untenable situation that private labelling can only partially remedy. Simply, the economic model for retail will require a complete reimagining.

The physical store will become the most powerful and measurable media channel available to a brand, and the customer experiences that take place there will be the most profitable product a retailer can sell.

So, it’s true that retail may not be dead. But therein lies exactly the problem. Until we let go of the old era we can never fully move forward into a bright new age. If we really want to save retail, we’ve got to let it die.

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