How we build, grow and remain relevant starts with an adaptable organization. Successful retailers are now looking inwards to ensure they have the people and processes in place to operate effectively, solve problems, seize opportunities, and create a roadmap for the next three years. What follows? The top 20 areas retailers must define and focus on.
1. The culture of the organization. Passion over paycheck and a desire to feel part of a company where problems are being solved and opportunities created.
2. Employee benefits, compensation, and well-being. This includes training and new ways of thinking about policy. (For example, an unlimited vacation policy might sound scary but data proves it increases productivity.)
3. Creativity in every part of the business. We are in an era of the artist.
4. Cloud-based technology platforms. While providing instant access to information, it only feeds scorecards to fail fast.
5. Financial budgets updated no later than the 5th of the month. This allows owners the freedom to understand risk tolerance. Financial and inventory budgeting are keys to success.
6. Digital footprint–the way you message to current and future customers. This is all-important.
7. Authenticity. Yesterday’s messaging and content do not necessarily fit today’s needs.
8. Be a first or early adopter of new trends.
9. Be a first or early adopter of emerging designers.
10. Obsession with freshness. Customers are shopping 24/365. This means planning weekly, not seasonally.
11. Research and shop not just wholesale markets but the best stores worldwide. You need to stay one step ahead of your most knowledgeable customers.
12. Convenience must exist at every level of your interaction with customers.
13. Kill all barriers between your customers and your associates. The ultimate customer experience does not leave shoppers feeling isolated.
14. Digital competition prioritizes convenience out of necessity. As e-commerce retailers raise the stakes, brick-and-mortar must elevate its game.
15. Emulate innovators who are changing retail. Amazon has changed customer expectations on convenience. Streetwear has altered the frequency at which men shop and their desire for fashion newness.
16. Profitability. Focus on cash profitability vs. paper profit. Cash creation allows for greater risk tolerance.
17. Live and think in tomorrow’s world, not yesterday’s. This is particularly an issue with legacy menswear stores.
18. Look beyond apparel companies. Change occurs by studying and implementing successful retailer practices in other niches and translating that back to apparel. (There is too much inbreeding!)
19. Know the difference between real change (innovation) and general improvements.
20. Adapt or Die. This is as true for retailers as it is for software companies.
Marc Weiss is president and CEO of Management One and Retail Orbit, a predictive retail analytics and consulting company for over 27 years. For information, visit www.management-one.com.