A tale of two brands: Are you ready to embrace the realities of digital business in 2013?

2013 is going to be a fascinating year for retail in Europe.

When I look at what’s to come this year, I can paint a picture of what Forrester predicts by looking at a tale of two brands. Both are iconic, heritage British brands that have responded to their increasingly digitally enabled consumers in two very different ways. Naturally, this has resulted in two very different levels of success.

1. HMV
One picture says it all . . .

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Luxury Retailers: Wake Up! The Internet is Here to Stay...

The following picture might be a little harsh...

...but I’ve spoken to a number of eBusiness executives in luxury retail companies over the last 12 months or so, and by and large they share a similar frustration. For the most part, their senior management remain resolutely defiant in the face of the opportunity that digital brings.

Which is arrogantly short-sighted, when you consider that luxury shoppers are:

  • Young. Shoppers who buy luxury products online in the US are almost ten years younger on average than regular online shoppers. Globally, online luxury shoppers are more likely to be tech-savvy thirty-somethings rather than brandy-swilling boardroom bumblers.
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What's in the Agile Commerce Playbook?

I’ve been called upon to present on agile commerce many times over the last year, and when I do I most commonly start with this quote:

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."

It’s from John F. Kennedy, a man that I admittedly don’t know that much about, but the sentiment in this message rings true for me. I am a passionate reader of history and taken too literally, JFK’s quote could seem to tell us not to look back for answers. But my take away from it is rather that you must learn how to build the future from lessons of the past. Don’t dwell only in tradition and “how it’s always been.” Far too many businesses have driven themselves to the wall over the last few years (Borders, Blockbuster, HMV, etc.) because they clung to the belief that what had made them successful in the past would remain their source of competitive advantage in the future.

One thing that history does tell us is that not only is change the law of life, but the pace of change is only getting faster. And that’s where the concept of agility comes in. I’ve written before about why agile commerce is more than just “multichannel done right.”  Absolutely, the imperative of putting the customer at the heart of everything you do and serving them coherently and consistently across touchpoints is critical. But agile commerce builds on this by focusing on the need to achieve organizational agility.

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