#NextWave: What Retailers Must Do to Stay Relevant in the "Now Economy"

Consumers Want Convenience. Can Your Brand Deliver?

by Tom Moore
March 06, 2019

It wasn’t so long ago that manufacturers and retailers were the ones to dictate the manufacturing and retail models. Consumers would be given a date when they could expect a good they ordered to be delivered, and they patiently waited. Your catalog or online order might take a week or two for fulfillment. A special-order car may take a month or so to get from the factory to the dealership. And movies would be available for at-home viewing on VHS or DVD approximately 6-12 months after leaving the theater. You probably still shopped primarily in stores for groceries, clothes, and other items that may need to be returned. Then, something changed.

At first, we were over-the-moon that we could access, share and store all of our media files – videos, photos, music, books, and more – via digital methods. That we could see movies a month after they left theaters or, in the case of some streaming services, the day they left. Then Redbox replaced Blockbuster. And a tiny online bookstore began slowly expanding its offerings to feed off consumers’ increasing appetite for on-demand content. That “content” started including clothes, electronics, cleaning supplies and eventually cauliflower rice. Seven-day shipping for online orders turned into two-day shipping, then next-day shipping, then same-day shipping with a 2-hour delivery window. All of the sudden, anything that wasn’t accessible “right now” became inconvenient. That tiny online bookstore forced an entire industry to overhaul its transaction model to fulfill consumers’ new appetite for everything on-demand. (Ever notice that even fast food lines aren’t fast enough for many people? Or that convenience stores aren’t convenient enough? More on that to come in future posts.)

Indeed, Amazon caused eCommerce to “grow up” faster than anyone could have honestly predicted. It proved a new online transaction model that compelled consumers to demand “convenience” from all retailers small and large, regardless of whether the shopping experience occurs online or in a brick-and-mortar location.

As you will see in our video from the Zebra workshop panel discussion hosted at the TED World Theater, the rapid rise of the “now economy” has left retailers with two choices: adjust their omnichannel strategies to meet this new consumer standard (and revenue targets) or stay stagnant and risk stagnant sales. Unfortunately, many retailers face challenges in staying relevant while remaining cost effective, especially given their reliance on suppliers who are struggling themselves to keep up with manufacturing demand. That is why this conversation is so important.

Recode editor, Rani Molla engages Auburn Professor Brian Gibson, Manhattan Associates President and CEO Eddie Capel, and National Retail Federation Vice President of Research, Mark Mathews in a discussion on how retailers can reframe their business model to survive (and hopefully thrive in) the new “now economy.” They touch on topics such as retail delivery, the omnichannel, grocery shopping online and the future of shopping. They also offer recommendations on changes that retailers can make to deliver “convenience” without compromising quality or price competitiveness. Watch the video:

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Editor’s Note: The Fourth Industrial Revolution is bringing on a tsunami of change that will dramatically affect the ways that we interact with and adapt to technology. How we choose to ride this wave will determine the shape of our future. The aftermath of “The Next Wave” depends on us: the tools we utilize, the expertise we tap into, and the heart we bring to the future we build. The content in this blog post includes highlights from a workshop Zebra hosted at the TED World Theater in New York City in Nov. 2018. Learn more here.
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Tom Moore
Tom Moore brings over 30 years of experience in the retail and hospitality industries to Zebra. In his current role, he is responsible for positioning solutions to address key business problems for customers in the retail & hospitality industries.
























































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