Quarterly NewsletterAutumn 2015
The Most Wonderful Time
Once again, we find ourselves heading quickly towards the end of a busy year and undoubtedly, retail's most important. As our already hectic schedules begin to blur between completing end-of-year work projects, holiday shopping, family visits, vacations and festivities, we sometimes forget this should also be "the most wonderful time of the year" for retailers and shoppers alike. As retailers at last begin to realize the fruits of their efforts leading up to the 2015 holiday season, on Black Friday the curtain rises and it is truly "show time" in the year's final production of wonderful customer experiences.
Recently Parker Avery was honored to lead key discussions and participate in three separate retail-focused events, where the themes and audiences were quite different, but our takeaways highlighted some common trends: emphasis on the customer, focus on innovation and the importance of change management.
Leading retailers have figured out that customers ultimately hold the keys to success. The implications of becoming even more "customer centric" transcend the entire retail organization as well as process and technology landscapes. Increasingly, successful merchants are working to deeply understand customer behavior, leverage insights, and make the path to finding, buying and loving a brand as seamless as possible.
This customer centric mindset has also necessitated a stronger focus on innovation. While the term may sound like an over-used buzzword and is often attached to technology advancements, it is in fact a state of mind to be embraced. As an industry, retailers are typically hesitant with regard to new ways of doing business, but today's consumers are pushing companies to fundamentally rethink how they approach many different disciplines: pricing, assortments, store operations, product development and customer service, to name a few.
Consumers now expect transparency and visibility of pricing and inventory levels. Retailers need to be more than just one step ahead if they expect to exceed those customer expectations. This does not necessarily mean investing in the latest advanced technologies, but could mean unearthing functionalities and exploring integration possibilities to make better use of existing systems. It also means taking a comprehensive look at how the organization is operating, both at the corporate office and in brick-and-mortar stores. Becoming innovative in how the physical store and staff fits into the omnichannel world can create new capabilities to "surprise and delight" consumers and keep them coming back.
This leads to the final common theme of change management. At Insight 2015, Parker Avery's Josh Pollack highlighted how the value of executive support and organizational buy-in is often under valued and under delivered. As organizations undergo change, especially significant change in the way their business is conducted, associates look to the company's leadership for guidance, reassurance and confidence that the new ways of operating, while perhaps initially scary, will ultimately put them and the company in a better place. This cannot happen without leadership from the very top vocally, tangibly and enthusiastically sponsoring the initiative. All too often change management is "slotted in" around a technology implementation, which typically results in half-hearted attempts and untapped value from solutions that promise so much. Managing change correctly can have a dramatic impact on how an initiative ultimately delivers value to the organization and its end customers.
Handled properly and in parallel, these three areas of focus can create exceptional experiences for your customers and your organization. But it is imperative to properly plan and pay close attention to navigating the change, focusing on the customer and developing innovative approaches to leveraging technology and the competencies that you already possess to create a "most wonderful time" for each of your customers.
We wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season, and, as always, please don't hesitate to contact me with any new ideas or challenges you'd like to discuss.
President & Managing Partner, The Parker Avery Group
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The Parker Avery Group frequently contributes to articles, publications and events beyond our own thought leadership to provide current perspectives and advice to the retail community. We invite you to read the following articles to which we recently contributed or authored:
Retail Value Chain Federation Fall Conference
(November 2015, Scottsdale, AZ)
Apparel Magazine's Apparel East 2015
(October 2015, New York City, NY)
Revionic s INSIGHT 2015
(October 2015, Barton Creek, TX)
6 Retail Experts Plan Retail Strategies for 2016
(CPC Strategy Blog, October 2015)
Saks gives fresh take on the modern woman in fall beauty catalog
(Luxury Daily, September 2015)
We are also looking forward to seeing many of you at Retail's Big Show in January!
• Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't, by Simon Sinek. Non-fiction, business. The next step after the author's best-seller, "Start With Why," outlining how to create happier and healthier organizations.
• The Shopper Economy, by brand management expert Liz Crawford. Non-fiction, business. The New Way to Achieve Marketplace Success by Turning Behavior into Currency.
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