Putting The Mortar Back Into The Bricks Of Retail

Updated: Jan 19

There are many great ideas on how to address the issues that retailers face around the world.

And unfortunately, there will be many who will fail. But as Sun-Tzu has said in the book the Art of War "In the midst of chaos there is also opportunity." And business is in a crisis within a crisis, it is a fight for survival. But it is also an opportunity for a future state to rise, adapt and adopt in climates of uncertainty. On a fundamental basis this is about future proofing businesses to survive longer by becoming more resilient and prepared for change.

But as I wrote the Great Transition the Emergence of Unconventional Leadership. I began to breakdown the critical success factors that assure all businesses a higher level of customer experience. They are simple rules not difficult to remember but they require a strong organizational culture to stick to them and continuously review and update the progress that the organization is making with them.

Today I am telling everyone that consumers are looking for greater convenience, the pandemic and work from home have changed everything and we are in for another year of this. The only things that can change that is absolute assurances that the virus is gone. As long as people are told to wear masks and social distance the more likely our new shopping behaviours will stick.

By the way putting the mortar back into the bricks of retail is a phrase I coined what's missing in retailing and what we need to do for retailers to rise again. In this instance there are four critical success factors that must be followed, executed and reviewed regularly.

  1. Mentor the organization: How is the organization being taught to behave about the brand, customers, employee and supplier relations.

  2. Manage the internal message: You can't advertise what isn't believed internally. In the book you will read that; "Culture is the soul of the company and communications is the fuel."

  3. Maneuver Behaviours: Lead the organization in behaviour when it comes to how you want customers to be served. Maneuvers are about training and development of staff on customer experience skills.

  4. Manage the customer story: What story are customers telling their friends about your store, your e-commerce model, service, home delivery, packaging, accuracy of order. All of this is about managing the story you want the customer to share. And that calls for very powerful level of training, execution and follow up.

Retailers need to create a hybrid business and consumer models that are unique and competitive. If the pandemic has taught us anything that this is no longer a nice to do. It often seems that it is pushed on businesses by theorists and futurists who have never owned or operated a retail shop or chain. This is a fight for survival not from the pandemic, but from consumers who no longer have an interest, patience or the risk tolerance to waste their time or their health. Putting the mortar back in the bricks of retail means you have created and launched a unique hybrid model and that will only be the beginning.

But it is important that you do not dismiss the changing landscape. Work from home, virtual fitness, personal health, healthcare, education, skills training, e-doctors and more are all going to gravitate further towards e-commerce and or using technology to serve better. As these transform so must retailing or risk failure.

The internet, e-commerce, social media, the retail apocalypse, and the pandemic have all shaken the foundation of retailing. But by putting fresh mortar where the old was with new ideas, innovation, technology and a fresh perspective is what will change the future for many.

George Minakakis is the CEO of Inception Retail Group Inc. An advisory firm to business. He is former retail CEO having lived and worked in Canada, USA, China, Australia and Europe. Author of Last Retailer Standing and this current book the Great Transition The Emergence of Unconventional Leadership. He can be reached for advisory work, speaking engagements or interviews at gminakakis@inceptionretailgroup.com

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