NEW YORK — “We’re going through a change, the biggest change, more change than any of us think will happen.”
This story first appeared in the March 12, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Those were words of wisdom from Stephen I. Sadove, cofounder and head of Traub Accelerator, Wednesday night at a presentation sponsored by CIT at the Sofitel Hotel. Sadove discussed “Ten Disruptors of Retail.” He should know: In addition to his work at Traub Accelerator focusing on technology and innovation, Sadove was the former chairman and chief executive officer of Saks Inc. and saw some of the early trends first-hand.
His top two disruptors are omnichannel and talent.
According to Sadove, omnichannel, a term that didn’t exist four years ago, is being “driven by the consumer. Whether that’s buying online and shipping to a store for pick-up or buying at the store and having it shipped home.”
The disruption for retailers concerns the difficulty in moving inventory from one store to another location. That’s because retailers have traditionally kept separate inventories for online and in-store operations. Investments are needed to have systems that can share inventory information. While many of the larger chains have adapted to the new reality, the shift now has smaller business operations capable of making that same investment to their systems, he explained.
Talent is just as important as omnichannel, Sadove emphasized. “The ceo of 2020 will be different from the ceo of 2000. It used to be the merchant king [that ruled], but now [the skill-set requirements include] analytics and supply chain management, and you still need to get the product right.”
He also noted that one out of every four jobs is in retail, and while one used to think of the sector as offering low-paying jobs, “now there are more engineers and technology workers driving retail.”
Also high on the disruptor list are mobile, since the smartphone is getting ubiquitous and provides access to “instantaneous information”; big data analytics, with the ability to drill down by segmentation of customer base, such as cross-shopping patterns and knowledge of what your best customer buys at your store and at your competitor, and vertical integration, as retailers include more private label brands to increase their differentiation from competitors.
Rounding out the top 10 are more obvious themes, such as price transparency, cyber security, cross-border e-commerce, changing demographics even within a classification — older Millennials are different from the younger Millennials — and wearable technology.