In my experience, the main reason why retail organisations and processes become unwieldy, inefficient, and inappropriate is because the businesses themselves are not built for change.
Creating fluid structures and the potential for added-value processes means nothing if there is not the culture to always drive improvements. At the very least to keep up with best practice. Even in new enterprises there can be a temptation to ‘glorify’ in the efficiencies of the current state of the art processes, without considering what should come next.
Remember every business was new at some point. Even the ones not around anymore were once leading edge in something.
Retail businesses do not have a great history of being built for change. It may seem strange to say that of an industry that is seen as being so dynamic, so full of new products, styles, designs and showcase shops, but in essence it is the truth.
Of course, if you work in a busy shop the pace is fast, the energy of an endless stream of demanding customers pulling you from one situation to another. And for sure, if you work in a hectic buying office the hourly cycle of supplier meetings, sample reviews, design drawings, and assortment plans is enough to make your head spin.
But behind the frantic facade, many retail businesses are built on the erroneous assumption that, in the big picture, nothing really changes that much. The complacency is based on the mis-guided security that we are still somewhere in the “Age of Evolution,” where the pace of evolution is slow and manageable.
But as every year goes by, this assumption becomes more outdated. Only when forced by such seismic disruption as the arrival of the internet and e-commerce do businesses stir. Even then, it requires the ‘stella’ rise of pureplay competitors and a slide in market share and stock market value, to begin the scramble to bolt-on solutions to existing functions and operations.
The heralding in of the ‘Age of Disruption’ has shone a harsh light on the inability of many businesses to evolve their organisations, their processes, and of most concern, their mind-sets. The mentality of many of the great retail empires is still based in a ‘more of the same’ mode. The reality now, is that fundamental and continuous change is essential to being a successful retailer.
“You won’t be going anywhere if the wheels have fallen off! Always keep moving somewhere.”
In most cases, to be fair, it is not as though businesses are not trying to change and improve. The main issue is that the changes are sometimes unplanned and uncoordinated. Retail functions which are run as separate ‘silos’ often instigate changes that adversely affect other parts of the business. Changes demanded from higher up in the business can fail to find agreement and traction across the relevant silos. Changes are attempted without the correct research or resourcing.
So, what are your opportunities to increase the dynamics within your business, to make your processes more agile, your communications more fluid, and your decision making more confident?
Let’s find out how to change your people, your processes or your protocols, so that you can realise your potential, and enjoy once again one of the most exciting journeys in business.
What is holding your business back? What makes you a laggard?
Isn’t it time to find ways to be more dynamic as a business?
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