Adopt fads at your own risk

omnichannelIt is incumbent on all thinking retailers to keep up to date with the latest trends and technologies. At the same time we need to keep the new stuff in perspective and ensure that our priorities are ‘right,’ such as buying the right goods at the right time and getting it to the right stores. Kind of old fashioned I know but let’s touch on some of the ‘trends’ in modern retailing.

We must embrace omnichannel, clientelling, the retailer’s ecosystem, the endless aisle, multi-dimensional data, intraday insights, analytics and data-driven decisioning, mobile-first investments, mobile first strategy approach to digital investments, data management-analytics-engineering-oriented, “connected life” and “connected home”, augmented Reality (A/R), the internet of things (or IoT) and wait for it – the rather risqué mobile penetration.

In logic, reductio ad absurdum (Latin for “reduction to absurdity”) is a form of argument that attempts either to disprove a statement by showing it inevitably leads to a ridiculous, absurd, or impractical conclusion, or to prove one by showing that if it were not true, the result would be absurd or impossible.

So what if we threw out everything – the baby and the bathwater.

We unplug all computers – mainframes, desktops, laptops, mobile phones – the whole lot go onto the trash heap.

Imagine your staff turning up for work with paper, pencil, eraser and a handheld calculator (because most of them wouldn’t have a clue how to do long division).

What would they do? My guess is that by 10am, half the staff would walk out totally unable to operate in a world that many of us operated in not that long ago. How on earth did we cope?   And how bad was retail without all the stuff detailed above?

Absurd you say.   Yes – that is why reducing things to absurdity is so powerful. It provides a reality check. We have to ask ourselves what we really need and whether we should adopt some of the nonsense merely because some (probably a non retailer) has thought up a new fad. The tragedy is that there are many retail consultants who cannot survive without latching onto these concepts. In fact some even develop their own and then proceed to promote their concepts as if they are gospel.

Let me provide a classic example. Some years ago I had the misfortune to connect with a seasoned senior retailer turned IT planning expert (ex CEO of a major US retailer). Steve had the mandatory diagrammatic representation of his theory. I wish I had kept it. It had something to do with supply and demand and keeping the two in sync. Hello. Economics 101 and something that we have been trying to balance for eons. But this genius fixed it in a flash. You simply force supply to equal demand. If a store receives a new batch of goods, and you have the identical items on the shelves, you simply mark down the older stock until it sells. Don’t worry about identical items marked at different prices. And you know what? He actually sold this idea and I know of one idiot CEO in Australia who implemented it. Needless to say he sought other opportunities shortly thereafter.

Bring back common sense. It’s cheap and it works.

Stuart Bennie is a retail consultant at Impact Retailing and can be contacted at stuart@impactretailing.com.au or 0414 631 702.

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