Quite a few traditional or legacy retailers are struggling to change and adapt to “New Retail” processes and structures.

Ask anyone to define “New or Digital Retail” and there are umpteen interpretations and definitions, no wonder people are confused. In addition depending on what you are selling or discussing with a Retail Executive will define the definition you wish to present.

Jack Ma of Alibaba fame defined in late 2016 the term “New Retail” as the seamless merger of offline, online and logistics as we focus on fulfilling the personalized needs of each customer. This is not a definition that most retail executives can measure themselves against so I started searching for a definition that would help guide retailers based on the customer outcomes they would need to deliver.

I recently came across a description of new retail by Mark Cohen a successful US & Canadian Retail Executive who in the Robin Report on the 2nd February 2020 described customer expectations so eloquently that I would nominate it as an almost perfect definition of “New Retail”:

” …. retailer must create differentiated and defensible assortments of merchandise and services, offered at appropriate prices, in a setting that is attractive and compelling. Stores must be well located, properly sized, wonderfully presented — and at the end of the day, always neat, clean, and friendly. Store and website presentation must become one and the same. Great customer service is really and truly the price of entry, not a premium feature. As for e-commerce, the customer has come to expect to have it all their way. Fast and free inbound and return shipping, whether to homes, offices or pick up in stores, represent a check box that every legacy retailer must deliver against.”

The other resource I came across was a video produced by Alibaba that explains the concept

In order to transform your retail business, you must have a benchmark description of what success looks like so you can define customer outcomes that you can build your strategies and action plans around.

Of course, retail is evolving all the time and I personally would add some additional outcomes to the above definition including

  • Communicate via Alexa or Siri to access my data and purchase verbally
  • Purchase product via my favorite influencer/blogger/TV personality social media