On the road again this week, with the privilege of extensive customer conversation. A summary: There's near-consensus...
- Agreement on today's situation and the threats. Very few heads in the sand.
- Understanding on how she’s shopping today. And what it means—for the store and the retail brand overall.
- Recognition of what can and should be done. Yes, unified commerce—and more.
However, there's also substantial frustration, hesitation, anxiety—choose a phrase—about what it takes to get there from here.
How Do You Get There from Here?
In the discussions, two themes emerged:
- A talent gap. There's plenty of experience in the classics of retailing—merchandising, store design, store operations, vendor-centric marketing. Today's retailing students are educated in those classics as well. There's less knowledge, and certainly less comfort, in the digital arts and IT sciences. And how those arts and sciences are efficiently translated to a buoyant P&L.
- An IT infrastructure-systems gap. Yes, what's in place today is not broken, but much as a 1955 Ferrari may still run around the track, it will not win this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Of importance, and perhaps not well-realized, not only will the Unified Commerce future of retail demands new online-offline capabilities, but it will require, as a core element, an increase in actionable decision speed.
Several weeks ago, we took a hard look at a well-regarded third-party list of store processes. And attempted to determine—with the goal of optimal unified commerce performance—the required decision speed.
How fast must new insights be turned into action to best meet in-store shopper expectations? How fast must new insights be turned into action to best lift store turn and conversion?
Days? Dayparts? Hours? Minutes? Seconds? Milliseconds?
We’re in the early days of this study, but some preliminary findings might be worth sharing.
Of the business processes we reviewed (76 in total):
- 22% demand availability of new, data-driven insight in seconds, even milliseconds. No surprise—these are centered upon cross-channel product availability and promise-to-sell/ship, issues that stretch from Web site to store to call center.
More important, in the new friction-less, convenience centric world, these will be differentiators for shoppers—the processes that will make or break.
- 17% demand insight availability—at the very least—in minutes. Perhaps one to 15 minutes.
- 21% demand insight availability—at the very least—in hours. Perhaps one to four.
- And, just 39% of the business processes comfortably allow insight availability overnight, or over a period of days.
We're continuing to review and work on this (collaborators are welcome). Other detailed reviews may come up with different numbers. However, as we think about how to get there from here, let's remember that it's just not capabilities. The convenience-centric value proposition of retail 2020 is also about speed.
Doing Store Business at Internet Speed.
Tell me what you think.