Retailers must adapt to change

When I was studying at uni, I worked for a major electronics retailer. It gave me a first-hand look at how retail worked before the Internet changed everything.
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Back in 2001, eBay was yet to acquire PayPal, which would revolutionise the way online trading was done. We were sitting pretty, competing only with other major retailers and growing sales year on year.

However, the Internet has a way of democratising everything, as we soon found out. Toward the end of my retail career, we were seeing people asking for prices and comparing them with online stores. We were paying for real estate, utilities, staff and stock all so someone could come in, have a look, then buy it elsewhere.

It was a consumer behaviour which would come to be known as ‘showrooming’ and it had a devastating impact on businesses like footwear and small-goods electronics where products were made overseas and exported to multiple global markets.

Years later, I’m working in a completely different industry, but still one adapting to the way the Internet has changed the way people consume everything. It’s neither better nor worse, just different.

We need to embrace change, roll with the punches and find a way to be viable into the future. Paul Pierotti once told me it was about “bricks and clicks”. The world is in a constant state of change, we just need to try and hang on as best we can.

-STEPHEN MUDD

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