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Time to get out more

If I’m in the office, I think I need to get out more. And when I’m out I think I really need to get back and do some work. I can’t have it both ways but I do know one thing for certain: I need to get out more. The world is changing and I can’t take part if I watch it all flying past my eyeballs on Twitter.

Retailers are the same. This week the old weather story came back into the news again; retailers are as much cursing the Indian summer for killing winter coat sales, as they were cursing the rain back in the spring for choking beachwear sales.

Uncertainty isn’t going away and its impact is only going to get worse for retailers dealing with slow or no growth, depressed margins and an endless draw on budgets from rising wages. However, hiding behind spreadsheets as retailers can tend to do, can’t be the answer.

Amazon is obsessed with the idea of second-guessing customers as to what they might be about to buy, but chances are they have less useful data than many retailers. Retailers need to look more closely at their customer data and consider new ways to communicate with them. Push marketing is still the default for most retailers; they claim to know a lot about me, but they never act on it.

What’s going on? I can’t live for much longer in the darklands that lie between what the technology industry says is possible and what retailers are actually doing. Otherwise, I am just one more voice crying in that wilderness saying how lovely it is all going to be once all this amazing technology is rolled out.

The tech industry in response makes a fair point – that the retailers are often a bit slow off the mark to adopt new solutions, and that is of course true. It has never been harder for retailers to find and implement technology, for all the apps and APIs that try to connect the old and new worlds. And retailers counter with the argument that tech companies are not flexible or patient enough to go with them on the journey, however long it takes.


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