Retail Reboot. Start 2017 with a clean page……..

Christmas retail results are coming in, and at the minute it looks like the crisis on the high street was forgotten, at least for the grocers.

Morrisons reported like for like sales up 2.9% — thanks to having the right stock, in the right place at the right price — simple retailing really. Although this does undermine all of the efforts of the marketing, technical, operations, logistics, stores, buying, legal teams. In principle they decided not to enter the price fight, but to add value to their products (sparkly macroons anyone?), which helped shoppers fill their baskets with more things and generate more revenue. Interesting they made massive stock availability improvements too, so people could actually buy these things.

Sainsburys has just reported a very modest 0.1% increase in like for likes, but they managed 30m transactions in the week leading upto Christmas.

The big challenge in the sector though, was the gauntlet thrown down by Amazon in Seattle, with its take on frictionless / seamless shopping experience. One that removes the need for check out operators (Waitrose self scan never quite caught on over here did it? Although they are still plugging away at it (http://internetretailing.net/2016/03/waitrose-trials-mobile-self-scan-three-stores/). To my knowledge non of the UK grocers were even considering this — they were merely iterating on the current model — making stores more efficient, cutting costs, chipping away at the experience, tweaking the ranges. Unfortunately I don’t think any of this will help guarantee a future. The challenge, as I see it, is that you cant iterate to new model, you need to revolutionise. Iteration means trying to take the resources you have and redeploy them, rather than deciding what resources you need and pointing them in the right direction. No where is this more prevalent than in technology. The main thing stymying the UK retail revolution is Chief Information Officers around the country trying to iterate on their existing technology platforms, rather than starting a new. See how Ocado managed to build a new system relatively painlessly, whereas M&S suffered delays and problems. See how the whole Amazon infrastructure has developed a whole new format and experience for retail through building something new. Whilst I am not advocating throwing everything away — maybe its getting to a point where starting afresh (new years and all that), is infinitely more rewarding than keeping the old model / system / experience / process alive.

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