At the onset of COVID-19, one thing became clear: Retailers needed guidance. In an effort to help brands operate effectively and efficiently in this digital world, we launched Coffee & Commerce with Cascone: A biweekly series with bite-sized episodes tackling the latest in retail, featuring established marketers from today’s biggest brands.
Marketers today are more than familiar with the “digital transformation” seen in 2020 — but what’s actually happening is much bigger. Join Bluecore’s Senior Director of Marketing, Sarah Cascone, as she unpacks the complete retail regeneration we’re seeing as a result of this acceleration of eCommerce.
Hi everyone! Welcome back to Coffee and Commerce with Cascone. It’s just me today, and I want to talk about retail regeneration. We hear a ton about transformation, especially with respect to digital, but regeneration, in my opinion, is a much more complete concept for what is happening and what needs to happen in the industry.
Now, digital transformation has typically been underwhelming to execute against because it’s narrowly defined by technology upgrades to cater to more people buying online. What we’re actually seeing right now are different flavors of transformations, or rather, regenerations, occurring that involve a rearchitecting of organizations and investments in addition to technology. A successful retailer will be regenerative in that it will not only be a sustainable and resilient business, but it will continue to create value for its customers over time. We are seeing this regeneration take on different forms in the industry.
The first is the DTC offensive, which is a proactive acceleration of a direct-to-consumer approach. A good example of this is Nike’s consumer direct acceleration strategy, which is coupled with an update to distribution partners, supply chain and offer management.
The second is the private equity-led resurrection. This is a financially driven strategy to clear the deck and make way for massive efficiencies and a technology overhaul. Brooks Brothers’ bankruptcy and sale to Sparc Group is one example here.
And finally, there’s the digital-first shift. This is where business growth becomes eCommerce led and drives store and partner strategies. We see this with H&M closing stores and ramping up online.
These paths to regeneration, while occurring for a variety of different reasons, have the same goal of capturing the seemingly endless opportunities of the digitally dominant world with an imperative to redefine the purpose of traditional channels.
Now, core to that imperative is understanding that we are in a whole new era of commerce. The speed at which consumers discover, evaluate and buy is changing along with their motivations for doing so. The modern consumer has access to so much information, and they are impacted by the current socioeconomic and political shifts in such a way that their idea of value and convenience is shifting away from the Amazon days of fast and cheap to the personal commerce era of “best for me.” This is a shopper’s personal definition of value, which could still mean finding the best price, but it could also mean best fit, access to stylists, availability of curbside, complimentary hemming or even alignment with the brand’s mission. The reality is there are countless different vectors that influence consumers, and a brand’s entire business needs to be set up to respond. This is the reason for regeneration. It is why brands are looking to consolidate their data. It is why brands are rethinking their store strategies, and it is why teams are being reorganized around elements, such as audience instead of channel.
So I’ll leave you with this as you follow your own path to regeneration. Consider what components are necessary to move at the speed of the consumer and this new era of commerce, and work backwards from your intended goal. Are you trying to increase repeat purchases or preserve margins? Are you trying to drive loyalty and lifetime value? From there, what technical capabilities do you need to meet those goals? Organizationally, what team structure and skills do you need? And finally, where do you need to make investments to support all of it? Thank you all for joining and see you next time on Coffee & Commerce.
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