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  • Writer's pictureJohn DeCaprio

Adulting, what Retail can learn from graduates.

Love letters to retail – Correspondence #3 (the final in the series – read the others)

Dear Retail,

I hope you are well and that the prospects for a COVID-19 vaccine have you as optimistic as I am about a return to your four-walled shopping experiences.

I realized after observing my kids overcoming what they call “Adulting” that we both needed to challenge our belief systems and the foundational facts that we have cultivated over the years in order to align with today’s realities.

Not sure if you’ve heard of the term “Adulting.” It’s a new slang word that Urban Dictionary defines as those who “carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals, but who adult less than 50% of the time.”

What sparked my introspection was seeing how well my kids navigated their own transitions from “Adulting” to becoming full-grown adults post-college. While they have struggled at times with what it means to be a responsible adult, it has not diminished their positive outlook on the future. I can only assume your kid brother eCommerce has made the same strides. Watching the process unfold was honestly a guilty pleasure for me.

The action that caught my interest most was my kids’ ability to make subtle adjustments to what I assumed were obvious decisions. It was in these subtle adjustments that they made being an adult their own reality. As I anticipated how these subtle changes would impact their lives, I realized that I may be missing out on opportunities for growth and evolution. As a result, I started to revisit my assumptions and the underlying metrics I had used over the years to make decisions.

I can only hope that you have been taking advantage of the isolation COVID-19 has delivered to reflect as well. If so, I would love to connect to discuss how your world view is evolving to meet today’s realities. This evolution may just be the key to our future success as consumers return to shopping within your four walls, myself included!

Love, your biggest supporter.

By all accounts, retail has been an adult for some time now, maintaining a quiet confidence in its ability to make the evolutionary decisions necessary to remain relevant, that was until the world changed dramatically once COVID-19 hit. For both recent college grads and business leaders, this disruption has created an opportunity for self-reflection, which will define the next few cycles of reality as things return to the new normal. Honestly, returning to a mindset in which anything is possible—just like what’s driving recent college graduates—is an interesting model to mimic.

The single most impressive factor I’ve observed in the mentality of recent college graduates is their absolute belief in the potential for a future full of possibilities—a powerful mindset that business leaders would do well to mirror. This level of enthusiasm and optimism is hard to fake, but when present, it elevates the energy of both associates and management, providing a wealth of reserves to draw upon as they do the hard work necessary to respond to today’s dynamic environment.

This core belief in the future is more than mere blind faith on the part of recent college grads; it’s built upon a positive vision of the future, along with a roadmap to success that has been honed during their college years. To embrace this process of intellectual and cultural transformation, businesses should consider getting back to basics, starting with a review of the consumers, by segment, that they are targeting. More specifically, businesses should research their customers’ purchase journeys, along with the metrics leveraged to determine the brand’s success in meeting consumer needs.

A key first step is reaffirming what matters is crucial, one that ignores historical perspectives for a reality check based in today’s marketplace reality. Where metrics remain relevant, by all means, extend them into the future. Where they are no longer relevant, metrics should be discarded. Where metrics are missing, find innovative ways to capture them, even if that means investing in new tools or technologies to capture the data required to move forward.

Interested in exploring this approach further:

Once established, updated purchase funnel metrics should be analyzed by customer segment to create a clear picture of the consumer—one that is not mired in aggregated data. As the metrics by segment are revealed, efforts should be extended to identify friction points along each segment’s purchase funnel. These can range from simple communication missteps that can be fixed in cycle, to operational challenges that will require a realignment of tactics, to more complex friction points that require deeper strategic thought to uncover the right path forward.

As friction points are uncovered, each should be mapped on a matrix by segment, providing a clear picture as to how each segment’s journey could be optimized. Pay particular attention to overlapping friction points; ideally, the solutions you roll out will be engineered to address multiple segments at once (as opposed to small, individual user groups). Once complete, consumer research should be leveraged to better understand consumer sentiment, as well as to project the potential impact of addressing each element. It is only through a combination of analysis and consumer insight that an initial ROI projection can be calculated.

Interested in exploring this approach further:

At this point, it’s best to expand the discussion to include senior leadership with the goal of gaining alignment on the friction points identified, understanding the bottom-line impact each friction point is having on the organization and, most importantly, prioritizing which issues should be resolved first.

The resulting short list of prioritized actions should be taken through a formal business case process that includes a review of your company’s internal capabilities to execute on each action. In the absence of internal talent and/or bandwidth, a market clearance should be completed to uncover any possible pre-existing in-market solutions. As a last resort and only when absolutely crucial, it may become necessary to explore the creation of custom solutions.

Interested in exploring this approach further:

Dear Retail,

I am excited to hear that you share my guilty pleasure seeing your brother eCom evolving beyond his “Adulting” stage of life. I share your excitement in seeing this manifested in a fluid process of prioritization and allocation of their limited resources as they figure out how best to address their newfound responsibilities.

The fluidity with which they adapt to new demands for their time, money and focus is remarkable. Growing up as a digital native has prepared them well. So many lessons to be learned from this generation. Who knew the transition from “Adulting” to full “Adult” would be so inspiring?

I hope the lessons learned will hasten a return to your four walls, enable you to identify and address friction points in the shopper journey that will enable you to reconnect in more meaningful experiences with your shoppers.

Love, your biggest supporter.

Thank you for exploring Love letters to retail - Correspondence #3 (read the first in the series)

About: PANDECA is a consortium of independent consultants led by John DeCaprio, an industry veteran with experience scaling global enterprise-level solutions spanning Marketing/CRM/eCommerce/Analytic platforms. A focus on operational excellence and bottom-line impact is leveraged to deliver value across the purchase funnel.

Interested in exploring this approach further:

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