Retailers who are dependent on brands are going to be in trouble. Somewhere along the way, merchants forgot why their customers came into their stores. Instead of promoting all that they give to the community, they decided to believe that their image was enhanced by the brands they carry, rather than vice versa.
The party is over. Brands will be forced to do everything they can do to get direct to your customers. They have no choice. There’s really very few stores left to sell. Barney’s is gone, Neiman’s is going into chapter 11, not to mention all that are already gone. Brands are realizing that they don’t need the pressure of returns and markdown allowances, particularly from those customers that buy very little to start with. A company like Zegna will become very tough competition for those specialty stores that remain.
After this horrible period of our lives fades away, small specialty retailers better rethink how they’re going to move forward. If you can’t get customers into your store because of your service, community involvement, relationships and limited distribution collections, you’re done. It’s time to become creative merchants and stop being followers.
Barry Wishnow is an industry leader and consultant; he can be reached at email@example.com.