It’s fair to say that the landscape of retailing has changed drastically, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

It’s fair to say that the landscape of retailing has changed drastically, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Retailers who haven’t been able to adapt fast enough have failed, and many of the survivors are still struggling to keep their heads above water in a pressured, highly competitive trading environment. Cost-cutting and downsizing don’t go far enough: the key to survival – and growth – is innovation. In retail today, the innovation war for the most part hinges on omnichannel strategy. Successful retailers need the ability to connect with customers via different channels and turn those connections into sustainable profits in a crowded, noisy, virtual marketplace.

Put simply, omnichannel is here to stay. The best retail leaders have already realised that, and surrounded themselves with the teams that can design and deliver those strategies. While there is evidence to suggest many consumers will continue to demand an ‘in-store’ experience of products and brands, the challenge is ensuring store estates are the right size, and connect with the omnichannel strategy. The opportunity for continued growth through store expansion is long dead and, for most retailers, drastic downsizing of their store estate is inevitable as they ramp up their omnichannel emphasis.

While the context of trading in retail has changed, the primary challenge remains the same: building senior leadership teams structured to deliver growth. It’s only leadership that can drive innovation, and the move to omnichannel requires decisive action on systems, processes, supply chain, talent management and organisational design, including the structure of the Board. We will be exploring the impact of omnichannel and the opportunities for retailers to profit from it in Green Park’s upcoming White Paper, which will be officially released this autumn. It’s clear that tough decisions need to be made, and leaders who have been successful in the last era of retail might not make the grade in the new world.

At Green Park, we’ve built our reputation on providing retail clients with first-class solutions to their senior permanent and interim recruitment challenges, as well as delivering board advisory services in the UK and internationally.

  • Steve Baggi, Co-founder and director, Green Park