Big Retail Execs Offer Post-Recession Tactics & Tips From NRF
Finding a nonstruggling multichannel retailer these days isn’t easy, but finding some that seem to know how to get through the recession is very possible. And during a session at the recent National Retail Federation Convention & Expo in New York, Stacy Janiak, vice chairman/national sector leader for retail at Deloitte, brought in the expertise of several prominent marketers (via videotape) to offer a number of takeaway tips on how multichannel retailers can get through these tough times. She also injected several pointers of her own.
“This downturn provides an opportunity for retailers to become more competitive and increase market share,” Janiak said. All decisions should come upon considering three priorities:
- customer centricity, a driving force;
- strategic IT investments to further the customer-centric operation; and
- brand relevance to ensure the actions you take today “are consistent in building the relevance of your brand.”
Mike Boylson, executive vice president/chief marketing officer, J.C. Penney:
The key is not to lose site of your strategic priorities. Support a long-range plan, and manage near-term capital expenses.
Bob Willett, CEO of Best Buy International and chief information officer of Best Buy Co.:
This is a time to focus on your growth strategy, “and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
Talent management is a strategic priority that should be on everybody’s list. Because work productivity has increased due to advances in technology and operating procedures, invest more heavily in your employees where needed. That’ll ensure that those who remain with you are well-equipped to deal with customer centricity.
Also, be more networked with employees, vendors and customers, she added. “Only then will you reach a truly customer-centric organization.”
Alfred Lin, chairman/COO, Zappos:
“We believe in investing in our employees — including their technical fit — if they can do the technical job and fit in culturally.”
Social networking and other Web 3.0 advancements will become more important to multichannel retailers over time, he added.
The mobile space will become more important, especially with younger customers. “We also see the use of 2-D barcodes and the ability to interact online. The ability to send high-definition messaging with handheld devices will become more common — not just a phone, but a handheld computer.”
“One thing driving multichannel growth,” he continued, “is more customers telling us their time is their most precious commodity. They’re shopping or researching online and telling us that they’re finding traditional media more expensive and less effective.”
Best Buy has made a significant investment in multichannel cohesion. “Consumers can come in at any [touch]point; we’ll know where they are and they’ll know where we are, and they can transparently shop where they want to shop.”
Customer centricity starts with a “know thy customer” mantra. Consumers are smarter, accessing retailers across multiple channels, and more aware of what’s available to them. "They want solutions," she said, "not just products.”
Growth in consumer spending won’t return to its former level. “Surviving retailers will need to seek new areas for expanding their business,” she said, referring to international expansion as a prime possibility.
International expansion “is about skill, not scale. It’s not just the knowledge of how a store operates, but knowing a culture’s strength.”