The Confidence Factor for Women: The Disappearance of Retail & How to Avoid It

Business advice, market trends and customer acquisition

I was sitting in my home office this morning, when I pulled up a story on Business Insider about the close of Ralph Lauren’s flagship Polo store in New York City. It is a store that brings back fond memories of my teenage years when I was going through my “Tom Boy” phase. I would constantly frequent the store on 5th Avenue just so I can have my share of Polo Bear sweaters and jeans.

Time has evolved since those days, but nothing is more shocking than the disappearance of retail. From The Limited, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, HHGreg, Gamestop, BeBe, Guess, Payless and more have all announced closures, leaving many unemployed and seeking answers.

There is a huge lesson.

In the beginning, I was wondering what will happen to all of the malls. As a real estate developer, I have always dreamed of building and owning my own triple net indoor shopping center, similar to Simon Property Group, but without credible anchor stores, it will be impossible to enter the game. Now that the malls will be less crowded on a Saturday afternoon, what will everyone do on the weekend?

The #1 lesson everyone must learn from the rise and fall of retail is forecasting. Paying attention to market trends has been a flaw in the large brick and mortar sector. Many of the retailers outlined were ignoring the impact of social change and underestimating the needs of their consumer. In addition, large retailers underestimated the power of Amazon, who invested much less in customer acquisition and marketing, while dominating the retail sector, which inventivized consumers to increase their value, without pivoting.

Pivoting is the process of changing a business model to fit the needs of the current market flow. However, forecasting allows you to 10X market trends ahead of time, with a clear long term objective. The big-box retailers underestimated the market trends of their future consumer in the age of start ups, online marketplace, and retail without walls business models to the middle and high income consumers.

So what does this mean?

You cannot build a successful business model without a forecast of the evolution of your customer. Once you know your target market, you must create a long term plan that researches the past trends in your business model and how long each transition elapsed. Sadly enough, with the death of retail, they believed the mall will be full forever.

Do not underestimate the customer. Set the trends early so you do not miss the opportunity to dominate the market.

Carol Sankar is a high level business consultant and the founder of The Confidence Factor for Women in Leadership, which is a global executive leadership firm focused on diversity and inclusion initiatives for high level women. Carol has been featured at TEDx, The Steve Harvey Show, Bounce TV, Inroads, The Society for Diversity, SHRM, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, Homevestors and more. For more details, visit www.carolsankar.com.

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