The Retailmageddon is upon us. Or is it?

In 2017, U.S. retailers have opened, or plan to open, 1,326 more locations than they will be closing, according to IHL Group’s Debunking the Retail Apocalypse report. When you add in restaurants, the increase jumps to 4,080 new openings in 2017 with another 5,050 planned in 2018. So, between chain stores and restaurants, 10,123 will close in 2017, but 14,239 will open.

So, maybe retail isn’t dying but the industry is certainly shifting. Twenty of the country’s most prominent retailers are shuttering stores this year, including Abercrombie & Fitch, The Children’s Place, CVS, Hhgregg, The Limited and Michael Kors.

Given the rise of eCommerce, including the Amazon Effect and its impact on the industry, it is imperative that brands change their way of doing business and engaging customers. The industry shift actually provides an amazing opportunity for breakout brands and entrepreneurs to make headway by disrupting the status quo.

Total Retail’s Summer publication featured 7 of these retail disrupters, and while their approaches are each quite different, some striking similarities can be found:

  • A desire to reinvent antiquated businesses and business models
  • A focus on hiring only top talent
  • An effort to continually test and adapt products, services, and processes
  • A focus on community and on social missions
  • An emphasis on maintaining a strong connection with customers
  • A creative use of Social Media to connect and engage
  • An understanding of the importance of value and convenience for the modern consumer
  • An appreciation for customer data!

There are some important lessons for traditional retailers that can be learned from these disruptors.

Miki Racine Berardelli, CEO of KIDBOX, says “agility is key in this new retail landscape. The customer is in the driver’s seat, with their mobile device serving as their command center, expecting brands to be where they are, precisely at the moment they want them to be there.”

According to Jen Rubio, Co-founder and Creative Director of Away, when we talk about the future of retail, offering a best-in-class experience is something that customers are going to come to expect.

And it is possible to optimize for customer happiness and profitability at the same time, says Aarthi Ramamurthy, Founder and CEO of Lumoid.

With the significant shifts to the retail industry, it is clear that only the strongest or most dynamic will survive.

What is your retail brand doing to adapt to retailmageddon?

Written by Gabrielle Perham, MBA