Retail Evolution

Change With The Times or Be Left Behind

This month we raise an important question to all you retailers out there: Are you stubbornly stuck?

We mean no offense by this, but when we look around the marketplace, we have noticed a distinct pattern of some (and by no means all!) existing retailers refusing to step outside of their niches and provide something new and tangible to their target customers.

An example? Sure thing! Let’s look at Abercrombie & Fitch…

As you may know, A&F is known for being offensive, unethical and not following retail best practices. They have been struggling of late as their target market takes a stand against the combative and atypical retailer. What could they have done differently to evolve with the times and not be left out in the “cold”?

Cared about their employees
  • For so long, A&F has focused on staffing “pretty” people and not cared about the training of their people. If they had focused on training and making the in-store experience approachable to all, perhaps the target market wouldn’t be rebelling like they are.
Focused a bit more on INVENTORY TURNOVER
  • Since the early 90’s, while the rest of the retail world has evolved, A&F has continued with a slow inventory turnover model. Think about stores like H&M and Forever21 that compete for this target market’s wallet share. They are showing customers something new weekly, while A&F carries the same merchandise, just in different iterations week in and week out. The quicker inventory turnover model fits with what this target market is looking for…choices.
Used markdowns
  • Markdowns are not a retail evil, in fact, they are a retail necessity. Markdowns allow retailers to take risks and to try something new; they allow you to move merchandise and bring in customers. A&F is so stuck on their logo merchandise (which is not flying off the shelves…) that they are technically sitting on cash from an inventory management perspective. If they would consider marketing and promotions, perhaps they would be in a better place.
Evolved their company culture
  • A&F is knowingly arrogant and out of tune with what is happening elsewhere. If they had been constantly evolving and thinking about their target market in the process of their companies (lack of) evolution, perhaps they wouldn’t be stuck in the place that they are.
Conclusion:

As a retailer, you must change with the times. Know your customer. Constantly be walking your store with the hat of your target customer on. Always be thinking about your staff, your merchandising and marketing strategies, your in-store experience. If you find yourself saying “but, we used to do this…” think about changing your tone to something more along the lines of “but, we need to do this”.

Always take the retail high road, even if those around you opt out.