Defining the battlefield

Only fight wars you can win

Wednesday 12 August 2009


In essence retail is simple; sell goods that customers want and find a way to make money doing it.

This straightforward truth leads retail managers to believe that retail is only about operational execution. “Retail is detail” is a useful truism – but it should not be allowed to obscure the need for stepping back from the detail once in a while.

What makes Wal-Mart different from  K-Mart, Best Buy from Circuit City, Tchibo from Woolworths or Zara from Gap is not just operational capability. It is consistent focus on a customer driven strategy. In our experience, many retail “strategies” amount to nothing more than a list of operational plans. They talk incrementally about developments over the next couple of years – how many stores, which categories will be developed, how margins will be increased and so on.

This is all useful planning, but does not constitute a winning strategy.

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