An elite group of Australian Retail CEOs met in Sydney on 20 February to gain wisdom from acclaimed retail strategists Rory Scott and Brian Walker and to do some crystal ball gazing on a successful approach to retailing in the future.

Brian Walker, CEO and Founder of Retail Doctor Group, shared examples of innovative global approaches to “omniexperience” or creating the ultimate shopping experience through integration of both digital and physical store experiences.

“Understanding consumer needs and connecting with them in a unique human-to-human way,” is the only sure way to success and even survival, says Walker. “Consumers are not market segments they are individual people.”

Rory Scott, Group Strategy Manager at Super Retail Group, anticipates that online sales will not increase significantly beyond current levels and will level out in the medium-term. The immediacy of an in-store purchase has a tangible advantage over a 2 day, 24 hour or even 3 hour home delivery. Retailers need to fully understand and leverage this benefit, he said.

“Retailers also need to fully understand the economics of online shopping, delivery and importantly give consideration to appropriate accounting of returned goods. Consumers may order 12 items online and return 10 of them – how is that dealt with on an accounting basis? Are all 12 sales taken up initially? What if returned stock is damaged and what about the cost of relocating returned stock across stores?”

Scott says importantly retailers need to be honest with customers. If a certain service isn’t economically viable, be honest, explain, gain connection and understanding. Make sure though that what you do, you do well.

The likes of Amazon are setting the benchmark in terms of user shopping functionality and logistics. Other retailers need to get what Scott calls their “hygiene” right… make sure the shopping cart experience is efficient and smooth. Consumers have no tolerance for a messy experience at the final step of an online purchase.

Consumers will forgive you once, but expect you to learn and improve. If you ask them for feedback, make sure that you have listened and heard what they’ve said. It is foolish to ask what your consumers think and then carry on as if they hadn’t answered.

Retail Doctor Group is currently undertaking research into tracking the impact of Amazon on Australian consumers and retailers. If you’d like more information, or to receive a copy of the Research Results when they become available, email