Is your retail business a “winner” or a “laggard”? That was a question posed in a recent retail survey by Retail Systems Research (RSR).

The survey was conducted to see how well retailers were responding to challenges and opportunities that new customer demands and technologies have pressed upon them. They divided retailers into two camps, “winners”and“laggards” based on their success in responding to these challenges.

What camp do you think you are in right now as we close out 2015?

Almost all retailers in the survey felt that omni-channel was the future revenue growth opportunity, and they wanted to drive customer engagement through connected devices (iPads, androids) across channels, and differentiate from the competition. They understand that delivering a consistent brand experience through mobile, e-commerce and in-store is critical to their future success.

It was the response to some of these major challenges that determined the winner or laggard status:

  • Are they getting FASTER, responding faster to the customer in this age of fast fashion. Are they using speed to make smart planning and allocation decisions?
  • Do they have the data driven decision making ability to shrink down execution time to respond to market conditions at the store/e-commerce?
  • Can they respond to sudden changes in consumer trends which demand they move more quickly?
  • Do their systems operate in real time to allow them to get info quickly?
  • Do they have the inventory visibility so that that inventory is a shared asset, for all channels, store and web?

Clearly there is a need for speed, a new bar that Fast Retailing has set that retailers must acknowledge and respond to. I am not suggesting you need to move at the speed of an H&M or a Rue21 but you can learn from what they are doing to succeed in today’s retail. It is clear that the FASTER retailers, those who step up to these challenges would lead and win in the competitive retail battlefield.

The big takeaway was that it was impossible to execute on an omni-channel strategy without VISIBILITY to inventory, between stores, the warehouse, e-commerce in real time. That if inventory was not treated as a shared asset you could not fulfill between Web and Store, and know every stitch of inventory to share across channels in real time. And it’s not just inventory visibility but customer visibility across channels that are the biggest factor to drive revenue and the hardest to achieve for most retailers. The WINNERS are creating a consistent experience to their customers across all channels and to do that you need visibility.

Does your business currently have that speed , that visibility?

As we get ready to enter a new year, now is the time to consider what you need to do to get your business into the WINNER column in 2016. It is time to get more visibility to your inventory, visibility to your customers across all channels and deliver the customer experience and service level needed to compete and win.

If you would like more information on how retailers are handling these challenges you can reach out to Michael Dattoma at