Articles

A Billion Dollars For Car Manufacturing Mr. Shorten. How Much For Retail Manufacturing?

As the Australian car manufacturing industry spluttered its last gasp, Bill Shorten announced that – should his labour government ever be elected into power – he would establish a $1 billion dollar investment fund for new initiatives in car manufacturing. Lets be clear here. Australia has never had a competitive edge in the manufacturing of new cars for the mass market. It is also an industry that directly employed – at its peak – less than 100,000 Australians.

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Global Sourcing Has Stuffed Fashion – Globally.

Like all good things, global sourcing was a seductive morsel that led to a kind of economic gluttony that has had huge ramifications. Most of them for the worse. While the idea of sourcing at a lower cost than a business could make themselves on paper looks like an obvious endeavour to exploit, taken to the level that has now occurred, the only sustainable benefits have been achieved by the owners of the factories and supply chain providers to which production and distribution has been outsourced.

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Retail Would Be So Much Easier If You Didn’t Have To Deal With Those Damn Customers!

Without being an over-protective husband and father, I’d like to relay two events that happened to my wife and daughter in the last week while shopping. The first was a routine trip to one of the two dominant supermarket giants for the twice-weekly family grocery shop. Nothing out of the ordinary happened until the self-service checkout froze before printing out a receipt. As my wife went to leave the store, the attendant stopped her and asked for proof of purchase.

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All It Takes Is Enhanced Basics To Win.

Thanks in no small part to our obsession with technology, retail has become un-necessarily over-complicated and confused in an era when adoption of technology promised the opposite. As a result the vast majority of retail has lost the plot as it tilts at windmills that don’t exist and invests in mirages that don’t deliver customer or profit gains. Yet if you look at the few stand out performers in contemporary retail and examine what they do that makes them better, you come back to one glaringly unavoidable truth.

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Apple Make Things ‘Wonderful’.

There are a lot of people in retail who are sick of hearing about Apple as a case study example of how to do things right. Most of those people – in my opinion – take that view because they don’t have the capability to grasp the concept of leadership and continual improvement. Yet again, sitting through the September 2017 Apple Keynote, I was reminded why Apple is the most profitable company in the world. And when it comes to retail, they are in a class of their own.

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Why Is Tourist Retail Such A Disgrace?

I walked through two very high profile (off-airport) tourist precincts in the last week to be confronted yet again by just how unbelievably embarrassing they are as a representation of Australia and Australian retail. Housed in horrible stores, the cheap crap on sale was all sourced from overseas and sold by retail staff most of who could not speak English nor connect in any way to the goods they were ‘flogging’.

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Do Category Killers Have A Moral Responsibility?

Category Killers don’t land fully formed and with market dominance on day one. They emerge over time – admittedly some of them over a relatively short space of time. During their maturation they are refined, tweaked and put on steroids. Most started with some form of competitive advantage or unique selling proposition that gained them both notoriety and foot traffic. And of course – with the underlying principle of all category killers – they all set out to destroy their competition on price and volume.

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What If Amazon Is The Trigger For The Next Tech Wreck?

With the levels of hype around Amazon and the predictions that “Amazon will decimate retail as we know it”, it is worth considering the opposite alternative as well – at least in the interest of balanced contemplation. Lets be clear however. There are no signs at all right now that Amazon is in any way facing economic collapse or imminent failure, but what if ….?

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When The Smoke Clears, It’s All About Product & Experience.

The modern retailer has every right to be anxious and confused. The noise emanating from every direction is loud, demanding, energy sapping and distracting. From vendors to staff, shareholders to analysts, media to community activists, customers to suppliers, everybody has an agenda and nobody is afraid to push it. Which leaves leadership teams in retail businesses struggling for air – let alone direction. As a result, there’s a lot of smoke and very few can see where the fire really is.

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Cost Cutting Is Not Growth.

The analogy many Australian retail businesses have trotted out ad infinitum now for two decades is that “You have to aggressively prune the rose bush to ensure you stimulate new growth and strong flowers.” Unfortunately the Australian retailers who are still clinging to this mode of thinking are the custodians of retail franchises that more closely resemble Morticia Addams flowerless sticks than Graham Ross’ luscious Gold Medal Roses.

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