Retail Zombies: The Resurrection of Dying (or Dead) Brands
The retail industry has faced some major changes in the past decade. Between the fluctuating market landscape, emerging technology and innovations in customer experience, it almost seems like none of the retail giants of the early 2000's had staying power as we look back at them today. As they say, hindsight is 20/20 after all. As many of them began their inevitable declines, it also seems like others failed to learn from their experiences.
Take Circuit City, for example. After filing for bankruptcy in 2008, Circuit City became the poster child for the retail industry’s decline. And yet Sports Authority, Linens ‘n Things, and RadioShack met their end after Circuit City was already a thing of the past. It has been said that one of the major reasons retail giants declined in the early 2000’s was the industry’s reactionary approach to market changes, in opposition to innovators like Best Buy, which has always been known for embracing new technology long before it was popular.
Yet, the retail behemoths that saw their heyday come and go don't need to keep things in the past. In fact, by recognizing key errors, many of these companies can return in a way that allows them to engage with the current retail market while still retaining their original customer base.
Recognizing the Customer-Driven Shift to Personalization
Today’s retail experience is all about prioritizing the customer. Companies like Apple revolutionized the retail technology world by offering some of the best in-store experiences known to man. Furthermore, by embedding technology that collects personal data throughout employee interaction, the experience can continue even after the customer steps outside of the store. When customers have a choice between modern, personal customer experiences and shopping in stores so big and with so much inventory that they feel like warehouses, it's a no-brainer what they will choose. Today’s retail experience is just that — an experience. Therefore, it's vital to give consumers a place with friendly, helpful associates and supportive technology that streamlines and personalizes shopping in a way that will make them want to return.
Dangers of Complacency in an Evolving Market
When retail stores have early success, it can be easy for them to become complacent in their position as a leader — an attribute that's detrimental in the ever-evolving retail world. It's always important to stay abreast of current industry trends, as well as keep track of the steep competition that exists today. Knowing where the state of business is heading is vital to keeping pace with smaller, more nimble stores that can change their strategies like the flip of a switch. Furthermore, utilizing industry trend forecasts will allow you to give customers what they want before they know they want it.
Without customer demand and the smart, predictive forecasting that today’s demand management solutions provide, the retail behemoths of the early 2000’s could not move the inventory they had, and therefore could not pay off the vendors that supplied it. Not to mention that without prime customer service, shoppers went elsewhere when demand was high. Having the right inventory is a key factor in ensuring customers will keep coming back to get the latest, greatest product, even when lines wrap around the block. Moreover, today’s technological advancements have made it easier than ever to predict supply and demand at a moment’s notice.
Outdated Technology Doesn't Mean Your Retail Fate is Sealed
By recognizing points of error, retail giants that seem past the point of return can experience a resurgence. Even Circuit City recently announced its return, with plans to open kiosks, stores within other retail stores, and its own dedicated showrooms. By using modern technology available today, it seems like Circuit City is poised to bridge the gap between its recognition as an early 2000’s superstore and the flexible, mobile customer service expected from today’s market.
We don't yet know how this will play out, but this resurrection means other retailers of the past have renewed hope. The source of that hope is in next-gen technology, which can help create a modern, seamless retail experience. Even if you don't survive the so-called “retail apocalypse,” reincarnation is possible with the right technology partner behind you. It takes vision, passion and results to come back from the dead, but rest assured, it can be done.
Corey Tollefson is senior vice president and general manager, Infor Retail.
Related story: Surviving the Retail Apocalypse