Retail Apocalypse or Renaissance?

  • daVinci Renaissance man
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Dissenting view of the Retail Apocalypse

Here is the thing. Over the last decade, there has been increasing frenzy and hype around the retail apocalypse. A flood of articles and analysis have been written on the retail demise. It’s been evidenced, they say, by the increasing number of brick-and-mortar retail store closures and numerous notable brands going out of business.

Before COVID-19, the apocalypse was attributed to shift in consumer spending patterns and the continual growth of e-commerce. No doubt all of this is true, but I would suggest it does not translate into the so-called retail apocalypse, even with COVID-19. With all the changing forces in the midst, one thing is certain, there will always be consumers.

Instead of an apocalypse, I believe retail is going through a renaissance. We are witnessing a period of rapid change.

Sure, there has been continuous growth in e-commerce over the past decade, but let’s put it in perspective. The largest e-commerce giant, Amazon, takes up only 4% of all US retail sales. And according to US census Bureau, the entire e-commerce business represented 11.3% of total retail sales at the end of the fourth quarter in 2019.

Will digital sales continue to increase? Definitely.

Will it replace brick-and-mortar retail? Absolutely not.

The COVID-19 insight

COVID-19 has proven to us that at the end of the day, we’re social beings. We crave human contact. We need the person to person, face to face connections. People buy from people. Digital commerce can only go so far. So while we will continue to see growth in digital commerce, brick-and-mortar stores are not going away.

Retail Renaissance

Already, we’re seeing a coalescing of these different channels. Digital natives are recognizing the benefit of having physical stores. The increasing popularity of pop-up stores are a case in point.

At the same time, traditional retailers are adapting and innovating new ways to inject life into their brick-and-mortar locations with programs like BOPUS (Buy Online Pick Up in Store). More and more retailers are changing in-store shopping into unique lifestyle center experiences.

What it means for Merchant teams

In order to thrive in this dynamic retail climate, retailers must rethink and innovate in all aspects of their business. For the merchandising team, the transformation can be immense.

The merchant team is at the center of the retail enterprise. Their buy decisions can make or break a season for the retailer’s business. Now is the time for them to embrace the renaissance spirit:

  1. embrace change, be open to explore new ways of thinking and doing
  2. trust in yourselves, in each other, in your abilities and your creativity
  3. leverage the science and advances in technology

Buyers must trust their experience and intuition (the art), and work in concert with their planning partners to leverage the technology and science to achieve the financial objectives of the business while satisfying customer demand.

Survival necessitates change

Status quo and disparate spreadsheets you’ve always used just won’t work any more. The world around you is changing at breakneck speed. Siloed spreadsheets are preventing you from running your business effectively. It impedes your team’s productivity, obstructs your view of the business, and hinders your ability to make sound decisions.

On the other hand, technology solutions out there can be daunting. Many come from decades old legacies and enforce a stringent linear process that doesn’t work the way you work. They come from the heavy-handed approach of technology and data centric foundation striving to minimize the human element of merchandising. It’s no wonder every time you consider changing your current ways, you throw up your hands in frustration and give up.

Choose solutions that fit you, not the other way around

I invite you to look at a new way to equip your merchants and planning teams. Tools built to embody the very essence of the renaissance man – Leonardo daVinci, our company’s namesake and source of our inspiration.

At daVinci Retail, we believe technology should serve the merchant team, not the other way around. We believe buy planning should be a canvas for merchants to create beautiful assortments which caters to their customers. Science should be used to inform and guide decisions, not dictate them. At the end of the day, the most successful are those who can best blend the art and the science.

As a technology company, we are best when we provide the canvas and the science, then get out of the way –

And let merchants be merchants.

Ning Chiu
Ning ChiuPresident and Founder of daVinci
Prior to founding daVinci, Ning’s extensive experience spanned both the retail and the retail technology industry. A 25-year veteran of the retail technology industry with experience at Oracle, JDA Arthur, and Comshare, Ning was responsible for conceiving and implementing the hugely successful Arthur Merchandise Planning Implementation Methodology and Rapid Application Deployment (RAD) packs, better known today as Arthur RAPID. Under her leadership as VP of Global Consulting at JDA Arthur, the group experienced exponential growth, responsible for 200 Arthur implementations worldwide.
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