Articles

Darwinian Evolution Drives Retail Revolution!

Far from the caustic critic’s claims that we in the retail profession are among the last members of the evolving ape family to have descended from the trees to walk upright in the giant shopping mall of modern life, the commercial purism of retail proves Darwin’s Theory of evolution and – what’s more – stakes a claim to it underwriting our commercial and social success in the 21st century.

For Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Adaptability is the retail word of the 21st century.

And the primary enabler of adaptability is speed. The retail businesses that survive and prosper in this century will be those who embrace change as part of their business model. Those who make inconsistency, consistent. Those who do not rest on their past successes but constantly stay paranoid to ensuring they stay relevant right here, right now and into the future.

Retail has always been in a constant state of flux. But thanks to technology, change is rapid, unpredictable and capable of coming from any direction.

This requires the organisational flexibility of a highly tuned athlete, matched to the reflexes of a martial arts expert. It requires processes that allow for quality control without moribund contemplation of the naval region. But it also demands a comprehensive understanding of what makes the business great – it’s embedded DNA.

I have a saying. What made you famous is what will always make you famous. You just have to keep it relevant in a contemporary context. From the top of the organisation to the bottom, the embedded DNA of the business must be ferociously protected at all costs but also re-interpreted to suit the times. This is part of the balancing act demanded by adaptability.

You know what makes you ‘you’. But you also get that you need to update your wardrobe and change your hairstyle to remain attractive. You may need to trim your spending to meet your income. You may need to go on a diet to stay fit. But you know who and what you are.

These are the two things that underwrite the success of the adaptable retail business.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist in retail. In fact linear intelligence has often been a fatal flaw in people with masses of intellect who have blown to bits previously successful retail businesses. It isn’t a game of perfect.

Know who you are and adapt. Look to Darwin for the proof of what you must to do prosper. After all, the apes won!