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As a prelude to the upcoming World Retail Congress in London (Sept. 19-21), five retail leaders who will be speaking at the event participated in the following Q&A:
What would you say is the biggest issue facing retailers today?
Steve Sadove, CEO and chairman of Saks Inc.: “To remain relevant and meet the needs of customers’ dramatically changing shopping habits, retailers today must quickly and effectively transform into omni-channel organizations. This requires an enormous amount of talent, planning, and commitment of an organization’s monetary and non-monetary resources.”
Ian Cheshire, Group CEO, Kingfisher plc: “Creating distinctive offers in a transparent, commoditized, connected world”.
Ian McCleod, managing director, Coles: “The biggest issue facing retailers is how to engage frugal consumers who are seeking better value on the internet, requiring retailers to expedite multi‐channel retailing”.
Sanjay Kapoor, managing director, Genesis Luxury: “One of the biggest challenges facing retailers today is the extremely high rental cost, especially in markets such as India. The cost of real estate in India today is more than Shanghai and New York. This is due to lack of sufficient supply despite increasing demand for the right retail infrastructure.”
Hugo Bethlem, executive VP, Grupo Pão de Açucar: “The Brazilian macro-economic indicators suggest that it should be delivering a strong consumer environment with good revenue distribution, the lowest ever unemployment rate, low inflation, access to credit and falling interest rates. But retail sales are not as great as they could be. The second half of 2012 is expected to be stronger than the first half and the opportunity for consolidation and market share gains are positive.”
What guarantees success in today’s retail climate?
Steve Sadove: “I don’t think success is ever ‘guaranteed.’ You can certainly improve your chances if you have clarity of vision throughout the organization and a talented, innovative, and experienced team that understands, embraces, and executes that vision. But the team must be agile and adaptable too to make strategic adjustments as the environment changes.”
Ian Cheshire: “Nothing, but the nearest thing is to have the best possible team.”
Ian McLeod: “An unrelenting focus on the customer and the key drivers of customer demand – quality, service and value.”
Hugo Bethlem: “The customer is becoming more and more demanding, wanting greater assortment, best prices, great service and the products they want to buy at any time and in any way. This reinforces that multichannel and omni-channel is the future of retail.”
Sanjay Kapoor: “The 3 Ps of successful retail in today’s challenging climate are Place, Price and Promotion. Place meaning the right location for your brand based on the consumer demographic it caters to, the right price, which should be more or less at par with pricing of the brand in other overseas markets too, since the consumer is well travelled and compares prices, and finally the right promotion around the brand, a well-defined A&P plan. These three factors are critical to the success of any brand.”