An explosion of technology and online retailers such as Amazon has changed the way people shop and created new challenges for traditional retailers. The changing landscape of retail has moved many analysts to predict the eventual demise of traditional retail stores.
A panel of professionals from the retail sector discussed issues facing retailers, as well as what it will take for them to survive and thrive in the future at “A Glimpse Into Future Retail Innovation in DFW,” presented by the Naveen Jindal School of Management in partnership with the American Marketing Association Dallas/Fort Worth (AMA DFW).
“The topic was selected at the suggestion of Ray Hemmig, former chairman of the JSOM advisory council,” said Dr. Julie Haworth, director of JSOM’s Bachelor of Science in Marketing program. “He encouraged us to take a look at this incredible field, particularly because the DFW region has been so instrumental in bringing to market so many wonderful concepts.”
Hemmig moderated the discussion. He has more than 40 years of executive and governance experience in the retail and restaurant industries, including with J.C. Penney, Hickory Farms of Ohio, Grandy’s, Ace Cash Express, and Buffet Partners (Furr’s Fresh Buffet). He also founded and manages Plano-based Retail and Restaurant Growth Capital.
• Angela Carrales, senior marketing director for Acquisition Integration for 7-Eleven, and a member of the Jindal School marketing advisory board.
• Joyce Schofield, director of Product Management for Sabre Corporation and a professor of E-Retailing at JSOM.
• David Matthews, manager partner of RevTech Ventures, a Dallas seed fund and venture accelerator with a focus on technologies for the retail industry, a member of the Entrepreneurship Council of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s.
• Kishor Gummaraju, managing partner, Infosys Consulting.
Facing a changing landscape, retail enterprises, whether traditional or online, understand that the way companies are organized must change. Instead of seeing traditional retail stores disappear, panelists agreed that there will be a “blurring and blending” of online and traditional retailers. In order to be successful, retailers must offer customers multiple touch points.
“What we’re seeing, and it isn’t unique to Dallas, is the idea of the connected consumer,” Schofield said. “People may find an item online that they want to buy, go into a store to see it, and order it on their phone.”
Just as many traditional retailers are adding online components to their business model, many online retailers are looking for brick-and-mortar locations in order to grow their business.
“At some point, it becomes too expensive to continue to grow your customer base online,” Matthews said. “Always being on Facebook or other sites becomes expensive. There’s a breaking point.”
Some traditional retailers are using technology to detect customers’ smartphones as they enter the store, allowing them to ping shoppers with promotions as they browse, and to see where they linger in the store.
In the future, innovative retailers will create the “Amazon experience” for customers as they walk around stores. “You’ll be able to scan purchases inside the store and pay using self-checkout,” Carrales said. “In Dallas, there’s some good testing of this going on.”
Schofield said the idea of fast delivery will become a reality as more retailers use drones to supply customer merchandise. “I also see stores not holding inventory,” she said. “You will go in and make a purchase at the store, and it will be delivered to you.”
Retailers of the future will not only be selling products, Gummaraju said; they will be selling an experience. In the future, he said, we will see a service economy, a personalized economy and a shared economy, all geared to great experiences.
Partnerships, such as one recently announced by Amazon and Kohl’s department stores that allows Amazon shoppers to return merchandise to Kohl’s, will happen more and more.
About 90 people attended the retail panel event, many of them JSOM students. Allen Lee, a student who is majoring in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship and innovation, had a personal reason for attending. His family’s Dallas company, Jenny Beauty Supply, is preparing to expand online. Lee is overseeing that project.
“This discussion was very informative,” he said. “I believe that many of the things I heard will be helpful for me.”
Among the AMA DFW members attending the panel discussion was the organization’s president-elect, Angela Neal. She received an Executive MBA from JSOM in 2007.
“The panelists and moderator were well-versed executives in their profession,” Neal said, “and I learned quite a bit about retail marketing and innovation in the DFW area. I believe our attendees were also enlightened. I must add that valuable information was shared throughout the panel on thinking strategically about the customer experience as a continued focus for retail marketing. Too, I enjoyed this event because I was able to return to JSOM and reconnect with many of my professors.”
— Glenda Vosburgh