The Inevitable Evolution Of Retail


"Want to know how good business is these days? Keep your eyes on everyone in the mall and see how many of them have a bag in their hands." Wise words from a friend who knows a thing or two in the industry.

Unless you've been in a coma for the past decade, you surely know and probably contribute to the fact that online sales, cheap disposable goods and instant access to information are having a crippling effect on what was once a thriving business in face-to-face sales. Once you factor in the prolonged effects of an economic collapse and a general hike in the cost of running a business, the outcome goes from bad to worse.

What we once thought to be a temporary downward trend has now become a new reality: brick and mortar shops are entering the age of evolve-or-die. While the closing of countless doors may sometimes be attributed to outdated products and marketing ploys that no longer speak to the consumers, the harsh reality is that even those on the cutting edge of fashion, electronics, wearables and usables are taking an absolute beating in most malls, outlets and commercial streets.

If the current situation of low-to-no profit business wasn't bad enough, store managers are dealing with another crisis in staff performance and motivation. From the shareholders down, everyone in the chain is looking for steady profits and this trickles down to the physical stores where those who work the floor stand helpless at the fact that client conversion rates are too low to mention and the average purchase per client has also dropped off significantly. In short, people walk in and most often walk out without purchasing anything and in the event that they do, they aren't buying as much as they used to.

As a coach in sales and leadership, I live by the tried, tested and true methods of growth, performance and empowerment. However, even the most positive of intentions and outcomes may prove to be ineffective when the old model is simply broken and that is exactly what many sales reps feel as they stand in their empty stores gazing outward with a smile of desperation. They know deep down that regardless of how hard they try, the emergence of these trends will forever have an effect on the way business is handled. To resist change is to be swept away will the old and therefore it is time for retailers to evolve and to join the movement that is the future of the shopping experience.

For better or for worse, a major shift is upon us. It's not completely inconceivable to imagine that one day, the malls and outlets as we know them may someday become nothing more than automated vending machines and warehouse outlets. Though it's still too early to predict, one thing we know for certain is that a good chunk of the retail industry is sorely due for a business model makeover. Until then, I commend all of you as I smile back, knowing that things will never be the same again.