Retail has to be one of mankind’s most segmented and centralized industry sectors. Personal enclaves spring up to defend corporate interests and their key performance metrics (KPIs). It has always been this way.
I always remember my time in Kingfisher operating IT services for one of its firms. I was assigned the task of appointing the executive committee for the year 2000, supposedly since the business felt the whole Y2K glitch was an IT problem.
But without arguing the moral implications of that, what surprised me was that these people had actually rarely sat round the same table before, from all over the business. They were so individualistic and centered on their own part of the jigsaw, that obviously there was no space for the greater picture.
And that condition remains completely across the industry to this very day. But one of Covid-19’s less apparent side-effects is that it will completely change that obsolete method of working that is no longer appropriate.
For a retail company, adherence and coherence is all about implementation. But ironically, I do not even know of any retail company that hasn’t fantasized of cloning its best store managers. These are the ones who somehow manage to surpass most of the other stores, apparently, everywhere they go.
Yet is there any retail business owner out there who has taken the time recognizing the same managers’ attributes and personality traits? Since if they did they would find a trend emerging.
Start behaving as an Indie
An appetite for details and a passion for spreadsheets are a given, of course, but there is something important that makes them stand apart – they encourage themselves to be empowered.
So while directives and regulations are being distributed by the center, they are busy operating their own business. As compared to retail chains, it is still surprising speaking to independent stores.
The latter run their own company, and they are shaped differently. They’re much more inclined to take chances, connect with customers, and do different stuff. The very essence of their company ensures they’ll remain local.
While the non-essential shops are just reopening next week, that’s too early to predict whether we’re all going to rush out to the malls and shop as we used to. But the lesson from supermarkets, which obviously stayed open all around lockdown, is that shopping locally became a thing these days.
There’s no basis to believe that this phenomenon would not be replicated through industry, which would have significant consequences for the market.
Hierarchical systems of command and control should be broken down, making way to more empathic, inclusive partnerships between the shops and the middle.
So it’s time to begin acting like an indie if you want to stop getting a Covid-19 cold. And this implies having an entirely different attitude when it comes to coworkers at your shop.
Since they know your clients far better than you and more than anyone else, give them the right tools for the job, let them tweet, let them post pictures, let them create groups on Facebook, let them put your store all on social media.
Or you should of course keep telling them when to do and what to do. Yeah, admit it, you know best.