The Retail Revolution and The Place of The Consumer

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Friday, February 23, 2018 /9:25  AM / FDC 

The next decade is expected to be the era of the consumer, with shoppers having varieties and more control than ever before. They will be presented with a growing array of products and services, often personalized to their specific needs and wants. Consumers will continue to demand price and quality transparency along with a wide range of convenient fulfillment options. Overall, the retail experience is poised to become more exciting, easy and convenient, depending on the consumer’s ever-changing needs. The evolution in consumer demand, combined with transformative technological innovations, will continue to drive fundamental changes. The limitations of “retailer” and “manufacturer” will continue to distort, as companies evolve to meet their customers’ needs. These factors will cause the Retail and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) landscape to change further in the next 10 years than it has in the past 40 years.

Where does this leave the retail industry?
The retail market has become complex as the marketplace has changed. It has polarized into ‘global extremes’, thus forcing retailers to restrategize. Mega retailers dominate one end of the competitive spectrum and focused specialists, the other. Simultaneously, increasing customer diversity and individualism is creating significant demand complexity. Companies with no differentiation strategy are facing tremendous pressure; many have failed and others are still struggling to find the path back to consistent growth and success. 

The rise of e-commerce is shaking some of the retail industry’s biggest names, forcing many to re-tool their businesses for the digital age and weeding off weaker members of the herd. The Nigerian retail industry is not left out in this revolution, given the vast increase of stores and shopping malls in recent decades. The idea that the most successful businesses are those which simply deliver what people want is misplaced.

Technological innovations have put the world at the fingertips of consumers via their laptops, tablets and smart phones. Thus, prompting retailers to make dramatic changes to their business by closing high street stores and investing in websites and mobile applications.

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Yet, despite this so-called revolution, there is no certainty on what the ‘future retailer’ will look like. The key success drivers over the next decade will be centered on building a deep understanding of and connection to the empowered consumer, promptly incorporating disruptive technologies, embracing transformative business models in both the offline and online space, and establishing key capabilities.

With this transformation, there will also be challenges to solve by proactively preparing organizations for change and implementing the required technologies to address issues related to store closures, employment (job loss/reskilling) and potential adverse environmental impacts.

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