I wrote an article last month for our Total Retail Report e-newsletter that quickly went viral within the retail community. The article received thousands of views on social media and became the most-opened article at NAPCO Media, Total Retail’s parent company, on the day it was published. Since the article generated so much interest, I thought I would review it here.
Titled “Ascena Retail Group CEO: It’s Time for the Empire to Strike Back,” the article reported on a keynote presentation given by David Jaffe, CEO of Ascena Retail Group, at a conference in New York City on Sept. 12. The article opened with some of Jaffe’s concerns about the current retail landscape, such as how the influence of Amazon.com and other industry disrupters have changed customer expectations, putting economic pressure on legacy retailers.
It then reported what Jaffe said retailers must do to meet current consumer standards. He said it’s time “for the empire to strike back. All of us legacy brick-and-mortar retailers must develop a new business model because as our customers’ expectations transform and as new competitors enter the market, we’ve got to stay ahead of them.”
Jaffe identified three strengths traditional brick-and-mortar retailers (and not the new digital disrupters) have that they should leverage to help them re-emerge as leaders in today’s ultra competitive environment. They were the following:
- huge customer databases;
- well-known, iconic brands; and
- solid infrastructures.
As such, Jaffe said, “I believe that we, as legacy retailers, are all in a very strong position to take a lead in reinventing retail. It’s going to be hard. There are going to many bumps along the road. But in every market disruption, there are winners and new models emerge. The key is not to view these shifts and challenges as barriers, but as opportunities that inspire us.”
I think Jaffe’s message was relevant to most retail executives today. No more sitting on your laurels, he was saying, it’s time to take action. Jaffe also offered something many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers aren’t feeling right now: hope. By laying out the positive things legacy retailers have going for them, he reframed the message: retail isn’t dead, it’s just going through a transformation. And the good news is that brands have the tools they need to help them make the changes required.
I think this is a great message, and something all retailers should think about as they enter the busy months ahead as well as prepare for 2018. Let’s do this!