By Brian Walker
CEO & Founder, Retail Doctor Group

“We know that freedom has many dimensions. It is the right of the man who tills the land to own the land; the right of the workers to join together to seek better conditions of labour; the right of businessmen to use ingenuity and foresight to produce and distribute without arbitrary interference in a truly competitive economy.” (Robert Kennedy)

Recently I read a quote where the author stated that online was for the cash and shops for the show – and whilst I disagreed entirely, it has however provided the inspiration for this current blog.

In reality, ‘channel thinking’ is fast becoming obsolete, passe even, as we see that the truly high-performing retailers globally focus on the following key drivers to their operating strategy and performance:

  • Customer centricity in all perspectives of their thinking, culture, strategy and deployment,
  • Integrated business information systems – capturing all aspects of product, customer and performance in real time,
  • Curious leaders, investing in constant, continuous improvement leading to innovative practices in all areas including relevant technology,
  • Employment of staff that are students of their craft – constantly seeking to self-develop their own growth,
  • Product development differentiation is a given,
  • Distribution and data as drivers of the new definition of relevance,
  • Recognition that ‘last mile” distribution is a misnomer and control of production/distribution is a vital ingredient to this mix,

And above all:

  • Dismissing the central notion that each channel (online or offline) are separate elements to market and therefore build internal silos within their organisation to service these as separate business units or, more problematically, live the notion that they serve a different customer.

When we take a look at retailers driving higher results and higher loyalty with their target customers, enjoying higher items per sale and average sale, we see a clear focus on omnichannel retailing coupled with a focussed distribution at play. It is certainly brand matters, with recognition that this stumps channel and product every time in priority planning.

Take, for example, Premier Investments whose record growth across all channels, through the above factors in this recent period, is testament to this cool, hard, unrelenting focus to these areas.

(At the midpoint, this would represent a growth of 87 per cent on 2020’s COVID-19-hit numbers and a growth of 109 per cent on 2019’s COVID-free result).

How did they achieve this?

“Much has been made of the decision taken many years ago to fully integrate online and physical store sales and build a wholly-owned distribution and supply chain to support this. Premier’s strong trading performance showed a commitment for a tilt back to old-school shopping. Premier’s supply chain set-up might make it easier to flex from one channel to the other, but this call would have had to have been made a fair way out”

Flexing seamlessly from front end to customer interface, solid retailing standards, adherence to new technologies, coupled with these drivers to growth.

It’s not channels to market, rather market to brand.

Brian Walker is founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group.