We are inspired by a recent article in Inside Retailing in which the author questions all these new fangled theories on retailing especially since the GFC.
The article champions conservatism, basically the process of due diligence, before we embrace untested and often overly focussed ideas. This is how it is put – “Too often today in both the political world and the retail world we see restless minds producing solutions we donʼt need for problems that donʼt exist. Specialized ʻexpertiseʼ has brought with it a great deal of un-necessary operational complexity and over-simplification of the thinking process through the narrowing of terms of reference to the specialist area in isolation.” – a little wordy but you get the point.
Sorting through the relevant, irrelevant, proven, and unproven, is not easy, but, let’s try a couple of examples. Online customer interaction appears solidly entrenched. Even if it is just for pre-buying, our customers are more likely to check things out online than ever before. But whether the group buying schemes like Scoopon and Cudo or the big name retailer’s websites are the answer is still debatable for both consumers and sellers.
A large amount of effort was put into promoting uncluttered retail displays with neat and tidy merchandising and wide customer aisles to make it easier for customers. After all, customers had asked for it in various market surveys. That was fine until it became clear that what customers asked for and what they actually liked were two different things. In fact customers bought more when displays where a little cluttered and unpredictable so some high profile retailers, like Walmart, had to change their merchandising back to “strategic clutter”.
One thing is for sure. Conservatism does not mean complacency. Sitting on your backside and just accepting age old practices will get you nowhere. Once you have carefully assessed your options, decide on a legitimate course of action, and go for it with all guns blazing.