I see too many brands, retailers and wholesalers with great potential being completely and utterly crushed. This is happening because they are managed by people who are ill-equipped to do the job required of them today. Even 5 years ago the capabilities of your leadership probably started to kill your retail business.
Your Retail Business is Maturing Faster than People
This has nothing to do with age. Not even a little bit. This is everything to do with pace of change and how human beings are just naturally not very good at adapting to it. There are simply fewer people capable of keeping up.
It’s been decades since there was such wide, systemic change in the world of commerce. The only difference now is the world of commerce is significantly larger than it was in the early 1900’s and as a result you have that many more companies that can fail.
When it comes to embracing commerce as it is today, the kind of retail business that is digital first, extremely distributed, and technology dependent, there are three types of leaders I encounter daily:
- I understand it and I embrace it as core to my business.
- I don’t understand it, but I know I need it and I trust my people with it.
- I don’t understand it, but I’m going to try and run it the way I run everything else.
The third type of leader is what you have to watch for.
These are the people sinking ships and pointing the finger elsewhere. Unfortunately this is also the most common leader as these are usually the folks that have worked in retail a long time and haven’t kept up.
It sounds harsh, but we no longer have time to be nice.
When you read the news and you see another retailer closing down hundreds of stores, this is the reason why. It’s not because of the usual bullshit you get from the quotes and sound bites. It isn’t increased competition, high cost of doing business, or pick your other favourite buzzword heavy excuse. It’s leadership, plain and simple.
I firmly believe that retail has a giant people problem. It starts at the top, but it’s pervasive throughout the organization.
The market change is far outpacing us.
Perhaps I’m being dramatic. Truth be told, I hope I’m wrong. But as a guy who does nothing but speak with merchants of all sizes all over the world, staying quiet on this issue would be irresponsible.
I have example after example of listening to some kind of C-level or VP-level exec go on and on about how critical digital is to the future of their business only to minutes later balk at spending 1/1000th of their TV ads budget on something like email marketing (basic, I know).
Or the single store bricks & mortar retailer who spends $0 on Google Adwords or Facebook Ads but has no problem dropping $50,000 on a full page magazine ad in a home magazine…W-T-F?
I can probably fill an entire book with stories like these. They would make any digitally savvy person either want to jump off of something tall or maybe salivate at the opportunity they see being left on the table.
Longevity in Retail
If you’re the person at the very top of a retailer, brand or wholesaler and any of this sounds like some of your people…stop screwing around and do something about it before it’s too late.
If you want your company to be around in 10, 20, or 30+ years, start building the people and teams to do that. Get started on building your eCommerce dream-team today by downloading our free Ultimate Guide to Hiring for Your eCommerce business by clicking below: