Disrupting Retail: What Will Happen?

What do you do when you’re “marked” for execution? You can either adapt – and possibly live for another day – or find ways to significantly change the game. Unfortunately, in the retail business, most of the disruption is taking place by the disrupter itself, and not those marked for extinction.

Several years ago the Bespoke Investment Group, created a listed of companies which it believed were marked for “Death By Amazon” (AMZN)  and created an index of these stocks. It includes such swell known companies as Best Buy (BBY), Barnes & Noble (BKS), Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), and Macy’s (M). As we noted in my classes this week (I teach business strategy for CUNY), several additional companies recently announced closings of physical stores  – including the entire chain (e.g., Bebe, Payless, Radio Shack). As I understand it, the projection is for over 8000 retail stores being closed this year about four times last year’s number.

So the challenge is how to change the retail model.  Many companies are looking to integrate e-commerce into its operation – as the proposed $300M purchase of men’s clothier Bonobos would do for Walmart. Target and other bigger stores are working on shrinking their stores to increase productivity and profit per square foot. Many are adapting customer-friendly  practices to optimize the number of customers still using their stores; omnibus marketing strategies, collaborating with manufacturers to improve margins and cut costs, embracing social issues that customers care about, and increasing end-customer personalization. Whether these will result in long-term success remains to be seen.

The final challenge is who can do it better and faster. Will these individual and/or cumulative changes enable the retail stores to reverse their sales and profits slide, or will Amazon, with its potentially transformative approaches to retail (e.g., Amazon Go) give it a competitive advantage.  For people with creative new ideas on how to transform purchasing and selling practices that integrate online and physical shopping, these can be exciting times.  What are your ideas?

How the internet changes relationships?

First, welcome to the new year!. May it be filled with good health, happiness, and the realization of your dreams.

Second, I’ve been planning on starting a blog for quite some time, to share with you the many things I discuss with colleagues, clients, writers/editors, students, association and corporate audiences, interns, etc., and there’s no better time than the start of a new year. So, here goes. I look forward to many insightful conversations!

Someone recently asked me, “How has the Internet changed relationships?” We brainstormed on the many ways the Internet is changing our lives and how we communicate with one another, and considered what future implications and directions might be. As with all technologies, it’s not all good or bad; the issue is how do we harness the trends to improve our lives.
Thus, the issue is; What’s changing from a psychological, social and business perspective?

Here are a few trends I’ve noticed.
1. We’re always connected. On the positive side, it’s now possible to stay in touch with people with whom you want to be connected. You can monitor and communicate with aging parents and children. It’s easier now to reach out and converse with a friend who may live half-way around the world as well as your local group of friends. Portable devices allow is to access news, opinions, advertisements, music, op-eds etc., anywhere and anytime. On the negative side, we’re losing some of the quiet time or “slack” in our routine; our sphere of “personal privacy” is shrinking as our purchases, responses, comments reveal aspects of our lives.
2. Our access to information has skyrocketed. We can access facts, statistics, definitions, photos, movies, opinions (blogs),news, lesson-plans, company descriptions, resumes, medical information, etc., within seconds. Ignorance is no longer an excuse.
3. Quality of care, such as health care, is increasing exponentially with increased access of medical records, second opinions and long-distance medical advice, monitoring of vital signs, and new methods of cost-controls.
4. People are relating directly with institutions, cutting out the middle “middle-men”. For instance, organizational control of information is giving way to social media’s empowerment of individuals for civic journalism (blogs), people’s discontent and resistance to governments (Twitter and Facebook) and whistle-blowing. People are taking on greater responsibilities for their lives as they interact directly through on-line banking, investing and purchasing.

Which of these issues are most relevant to you? How the internet is changing your relationships and others? As the internet’s role in our lives continues to increase, what other transformations should we expect?

Someone once said that the best way to predict the future is to create it. So, let’s get busy!


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