Nothing is fair in love, war or retail. Amazon and large retailers are deploying technology that makes it impossible for many retailers to compete. To survive, tomorrow is "day one" to find something to differentiate value.
Why this is important: On the surface, omnichannel sounds like a panacea to bolster sales. But, some channels are far more costly than stores. CFOs face new challenges of balancing sales versus the increasing cost burden of omnichannel.
Omnichannel is not cheap. It creates additional layers of infrastructure and costs to sell products through to the end customer. One of most challenging and costly is the "last mile" of delivery.
The paradox was that even though the focus of the conference was on technology retail, the innovations were less about applying technology to retail, and much more about how to engage today's omnichannel consumer.
Why this is important: In order to survive and thrive, retailers are transforming to omnichannel. That will require new capabilities from distributors to in order to meet consumer expectations of more product choice and delivery on their terms.
Both Amazon and Walmart are aggressively changing the rules of retail in the US, as well international markets. For any retailer competing to survive, the one real threat is "death by mediocrity" and lack of differentiation.
Consumers expectations rise every time they have personal experiences which exceed the norm, and they bring those new expectations to retail with them. Retailers must now reach beyond traditional store design to start delivering personalized experiences that customers know are possible today.
With the rapid growth of ecommerce, neither products nor technology are unique differentiators. Retailers are rapidly transforming beyond selling gadgets to creating a differentiated experience. Will vendors also adapt?
Declaring you are omnichannel is the easy part! Achieving profitability will require balancing the tradeoffs of long tail assortments versus the ability to deliver a quality experience integrating the virtual and physical shelf.
The future "ain't what it used to be". To thrive will require more than channel strategy … it requires keeping pace with the rapidly evolving consumer patterns and expectations of where and how they will purchase.