Something Good Is Just About To Happen In Retail

Matt Laukaitis

Football and fashion.

These two things generally don’t mix. But as an avid sports fan and retail executive, I often have football and fashion top of mind.

In the Seattle area, where I currently reside, we love our Seahawks. Since head coach Pete Carroll took over the team in 2010, he’s had a transformative effect on the team, having won three NFC West crowns, two NFC championships, and one Super Bowl title.

When you watch Pete Carroll on the sidelines during a game, his enthusiasm is infectious. The passion he displays obviously motivates his players, but his words are equally inspiring.

He ascribes his sense of relentless optimism to an expression his mother used from the time he was a young boy: “Something good is just about to happen.”

This type of optimism has resulted in unparalleled success for the Seahawks over the past six seasons. But it could positively impact people in all walks of life.

As an optimist myself, I believe that this same attitude should apply to today’s world of fashion, particularly with all of the disruption and change occurring in the industry.

Three steps to ensure fashion retail success

On a recent episode of Coffee Break with Game-Changers, I spoke with host Bonnie D. Graham about how retail leaders could benefit from positive thinking in an industry that’s constantly evolving and how digital transformation is the key enabler to winning in retail today.

We’re currently operating in the digital age. Retailers must regularly adapt to simplify their internal operations and deliver timely, contextually relevant, and personalized customer experiences.

This transformation can overwhelm anybody. That’s why it’s so critical to have a calm presence at the top, providing sage advice, offering positive thoughts, and assuring that good things will happen as long as employees stay focused on the tasks that they can control on a daily basis.

But as fashion retailers, you can’t merely wait for good things to happen. Action is critical. In particular, you must:

  1. Gain a single version of the truth – throughout the supply chain. Traditionally, companies viewed data in silos, as they wanted to see how different aspects of the business – be it retail, wholesale, or manufacturing – were performing. This will continue to be important. But today’s retailers need to expand their views, gaining insight into a customer’s entire journey throughout the supply chain. This will enable fashion retailers to gather customer sentiment, from the runway through the marketing campaign, in order to deliver quick, unique, and ultimately superior customer experiences.
  1. Provide a fully realized, comprehensive customer experience. It’s easy enough to allow customers to buy products online and pick them up or return them in-store. And many retailers have finally overcome the general legacy issues surrounding multichannel compensation. But retailers must remain committed to becoming more agile and resolving any potential organizational issues that may be holding them back from delivering truly relevant and inspired customer experiences.
  1. Close the gap between customer experience strategy and execution. Retail employees – from the CEO, to in-store associates, to customer service representatives – must all be on the same page regarding the customer experience. Everyone must understand what it presently entails as well as what it should comprise. Beyond merely familiarizing your staff with the strategy, employees must be properly equipped and capable of implementing the strategy. Each and every company has a mission statement somewhere. Most are printed on fancy signage and adorn the walls of a retail headquarters for all staff to see. Delivering a high-quality customer experience should be at the top, or near the top, of the statement. Actually executing your customer experience strategy will depend on empowering your staff and simply getting out of your own way.

Digital transformation can set your fashion retailer apart

If I had to make a prediction about the future of fashion retail, it would be this:

A market correction is coming. The companies that can achieve what I’ve outlined above – gaining a single version of the truth throughout the supply chain, providing a fully realized, comprehensive customer experience, and closing the gap between strategy and execution – will succeed.

The businesses that can’t will fall behind.

The key to achieving your greatest retail goals is digital transformation. By transforming your digital core and reimagining your existing business models and processes through digitization, your company can begin operating as a Live Business. This will ensure that your organization possesses the real-time insight it needs to quickly react to constantly changing customer expectations and even predict what consumers will crave in the future based on current buyer trends and behaviors.

Best of all, you’ll be able to deliver the timely, contextually relevant, and personalized customer experiences necessary to win in today’s hyper-competitive retail landscape.

Transform your fashion retail business into a Live Business today. When you do, I promise you, something good will most assuredly happen.

About Matt Laukaitis

Matt Laukaitis is Senior Vice President and General Manager of North America Consumer Industries at SAP. He is responsible for the division’s strategy, business operations, and sales performance throughout the region.