2019 – The Year Retail Changes Forever

This week I’m excited to share a great article written by my colleague Bill Rooney from 6one5 Consulting Group. Bill shares his many insights into the big challenges retailers face right now.

How long did it take for the Horse & Buggy to be replaced by the car? It took 5 years from 1910 – 1915 and in that time, road transport changed for ever. For people who built buggies and bred horses they thought the good times would never end, based on the previous 1,900 years of success. 

Retail in 2019 is facing its own “horse & buggy” moment – it needs to transform or be left behind. 

Simon Freakley the CEO of Alix Partners one of the worlds premier transformation and restructuring consultancies in an interview on Bloomberg TV recently summarised the Retail Industries need to transform quickly, he describes it as “accelerated transformation”. 

See video feed of the interview at https://youtu.be/6Luhrn7rBO4

What’s Driving the Change and how is it Occurring? : Customers are driving the change via changed shopping habits.

In the USA last year, 85% of consumers product searches were via Amazon (50%+), Google and other search engines and 15% via the retailer and this 15% was in decline. This trend makes sense for most geographies as Amazon, Alibaba, We Chat, Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, eBay and the like to dominate our marketing $ spend and consumer searches.

The implication for retailers is that to be successful at sourcing new customers and driving increased traffic into store you will have to sell and market successfully on these platforms to compensate for less direct exposure to customers. Opening new stores, the traditional way retailers grew their business is in decline unless opening stores in new geographies or launching a new brand. 

What Does a Successful Retail Model Look Like in 2019 and beyond?

While physically Retail looks the same with a mix of bricks & mortar and ecommerce, the structure, people and processes that make for a successful retailer has changed forever. “physically nothing has changed, structurally everything has changed”

    • It will look physically the same as today with a balance of brick & mortar and ecommerce. My guess in fashion is it will be 70% bricks & mortar and 30% ecommerce within a few years. Each segment will vary in % terms and timing.
    • Retail Stores will need to be exciting and consumer friendly. Today too many retailers have copycat layouts, promotions, store locations, merchandise, pricing etc.
    • Consumer insights via ecommerce and social media data will drive decision making, category management, innovation etc.
    • All key roles and capability in a Retailer will change, from CEO, Chief Marketing Officer, Merchandise, Retail Director, HR and L&D. This will mean a re-education of existing executives and their mindsets
    • This is a data revolution enabled by technology. To extract the data means a globally competitive (with Amazon) ERP system , ecommerce platform and AI/Machine Learning Tools.
  • To pay for the transformation means extracting savings via digital innovation, however internal stakeholders are reluctant to embrace change that involves risk or technology and processes they are uncertain about. To enable transformation will require external help and the development of a strategy based on “New Retail” concepts not traditional retail. If the CEO doesn’t drive the transformation and unless they embrace a whole of business approach the transition will be doomed.


Henry Ford is often quoted in terms of evolution and innovation as saying “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” I am amazed at how many retailers are currently doubling down on trying to save costs on their horse feed and buggy. 

Retail CEO’s and Owners are grappling with challenge of transformation because physically nothing has changed, structurally everything has changed. 

As a Retail Executive I would recommend you try the red Ferrari.

Author: Bill Rooney, CEO of 6one5 Retail Consulting Group, a retail strategy consultancy & digital training business.

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.