In decades past, when retail icons like F.W. Woolworth, James Cash Penney and John D.Rockefeller planted what would later become mega-retail empires, they founded them based on the principle that the customer experience instore is paramount above anything. It was a simple “people first, profits follow” mentality. Their store presence expanded beyond their four walls and into their communities and the lives of the people who lived and shopped in them.
Years of suburban growth and retail expansion changed the face of retail as it was originally intended. Like any industry, there is evolution, change and sometimes radical transformation. And so it’s no news to any of us that “retail is changing.” Yet, with the recent massive big box and department store chain closings nationwide, it’s easy for the public to conclude that retail altogether is in its final stages of death. But those of us in the industry know better and are not at all surprised. Not the brands, the retailers themselves or those of us who service and supply them. The closings are an appropriate, though painful, shift as a result of a decade-long battle between retail and e-commerce for consumer dollars.
This recent article by Fortune magazine makes sense of all that is amuck better than any article I’ve yet to read. Retail isn’t dying at all. It’s reinventing. And the reinvention that’s happening harbors exciting opportunities for our industry-at-large in the months and years ahead. Finally, let ecommerce warehouses do what they do best – move product directly to the consumer at incomparable discounts and to their doorstep. And let retail return to it’s original design of creating amazing experiences for the shopper and lifetimes of brand loyalty.