I am not the first to call this a digital jungle that retailers must face today: Pinterest Boards, QR Code Walls, Daily Deals, Mobile Couponing, Pop-Up Shops, Mobile Apps, Tweet Mirror, Group Buying, Facebook Walls, Virtual Reality, and Flash Sales.

And that is just what we are facing TODAY.

If you consider the following three trends, you may get a feel for how well you are prepared even for the near future. (Follow the links to find out more.)

  1. The environment around you will anticipate your every move. (World Future Society – Trend #1)
  2. Buying and owning things will go out of style. (World Future Society – Trend #5)
  3. The social pendulum (via Roy H Williams and Michael Drew) is about the swing from a ME culture to a WE culture.

It is not a matter playing a bit of catch-up by going online!

In order to understand how the consumer now shops, take the time to carefully look at this image from the Boston Consulting Group.


Omni-Channel Dress Purchase-BCG.jpg

In a world that has already changed, and one in which change will accelerate, what is a retailer to do? How do you respond to this new ‘path-to-purchase’? (Did you note that only 3 of the 10 touch points were in-store?)



Do not go online and attempt to give the customer as much choice as possible. (This is silly in the real bricks & mortar world too.) That particular horse has bolted, unless you have extremely deep pockets or a very large ego. Already the market shares of total online transaction value are skewed in favour of one or two big players. Taobao (China’s) 79% and Rakuten (Japan) 30% and Amazon (USA) 17%. (via BCG)

Amazon lists more than 2,800 SKUs of facial moisturizer and Tabao stocks 800m products. You can’t compete with that, so don’t.


Don’t think that it does not apply to you.

Boomers are still the biggest spenders and will be for the next 10 years or so before they are overtaking by Millennials (who shop differently) but with every passing year the impact becomes greater.

If you own single shop, maybe in a small centre or a strip and you feel your business thrives on the local custom and it won’t be affected, think again. Trend #1 above will slowly change every single business, right down to the Kebab shop that relies on the 3AM trade from the night clubs will be affected.


I have written before that multi-channel is not for everyone. Look before you leap. Multi-channel retail is far removed from traditional retail. Madonna is an artist. Monet is an artist. But they are not quite the same are they?


According to the NAB Online Retail Sales Index (all business sizes), the value of online retail sales in Australia for the year to July 2012 was $11.7 billion which is 5.3 per cent of traditional retail sales. This number is growing, and unless you have strategy, your share of the game will decrease. How far can you sales decline before you reach the tipping point of going out of business?

A bit of catch-up won’t save you, but it is a necessary start.

The Sensis e-Business report (2012) found the proportion of SMEs with a website was 62 per cent, but only 15 per cent of SMEs reported having an actual digital business strategy.


BCG identifies the following four key challenges that must be planned for:

  1. The Informed, Empowered Consumer. How will you continue to attract business and build loyalty? 
  2. Complex, Multichannel Shopping and Marketing. With the explosion of touch points and data, in what new ways will you reach shoppers most effectively and deliver the best experience? 
  3. Shifting Real-Estate Demands. With even grocery shopping going online, what role will your stores play in the future, what will they look like, and what will drive traffic their way? 
  4. An Evolving Supply Chain. What technologies and configurations will give you the flexibility and efficiency you’ll need for tomorrow’s demands?

To help you plan you can of course ask someone/ an organisation to assist. There is government support too:

I will only briefly refer to the two remaining steps since it won’t matter much until you have a plan.


Put in place the processes that will deliver on your plan.


BCG also reports that two thirds of ‘transformation obstacles’ are people issues: poor communication, politics, lack of buy-in, inadequate skills etc. all play a role in putting the best laid plans to waste.

Of course it should be unnecessary to say this because it is obvious, but I will say it nonetheless:

Nothing changes unless something changes.

If eCommerce is something you want to participate in I am doing something special and fans of this blog are invited.