Dear Reader

Robin LewisUnprecedented global disruption and change is occurring as I write this note, and will continue as it leads to both destruction and creation along its path. The changes will affect every aspect of our lives, hopefully in more positive ways than not. However, one thing is certain, and that is our total inability to predict the outcome on any front.

And, the world of retailing is also right smack in the middle of that path of change. So, if you don’t want to be on the destruction end of it, by simply reacting as it rolls over you, you need to figure out what’s driving the change and then proactively preempt it through the creation of new, change-responsive ways of pursuing growth, yes, through innovation.

There are four major drivers of change: economic slowdown, even in emerging countries; over-capacity, likewise, soon to be so in the developing world; the fundamental disruption across all industries brought on by the Internet and its contiguous technologies; and, all of this adding even more power to the already “all-powerful consumer.” And, by the way, thanks in large part to the Internet, this hyper-competitive environment is not just confined to the United States. We are now competing on a truly flat, global playing field, which is both positive, in providing growth opportunities for domestic retailers, and negative, providing entry to foreign retailers into the U.S. which is already over-stored.

So to fight one’s way through these substantial headwinds, to successfully compete and win “game-changing” innovation has got to be the weapon of necessity. And, that’s what this issue is about. In my lead article, I attempt to provide clarity to what real, fundamental, and “game-changing” innovation is (Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, Zara and others), and how to go about doing it.

I also re-visit the fact that Best Buy blew their chance to “out-Apple Apple” with a better than Apple retail model, that in fact was successfully up and running. Our accompanying Q&A with its “game-changing” architect, award-winning Ed Schlossberg, gives you the back-story and some of the grit around its creation.
Plus, you’ll get a firsthand view (mine) of the new store design Ron Johnson is master planning for JC Penney.

So, as I’ve said, don’t waste the disruptions, the paradigm shifts and the game-changing headwinds. Embrace the opportunity, proactively create a new vision and change and create new “games” for growing your business.

Also in this issue, we take a look at the less than stellar innovation in the home sector and how new tools and innovations are enhancing business as usual with a report on the men’s market (Measure One, Buy Twice); customer segmentation (Multichannel Breakthrough); targeting customers better (How Do You Give Customers What They Really Want); and a smart strategy for using data to provide actionable insights for your business (The New Age of Discovery). We also look inside of the phenomenon, Lululemon, as well as three other bellwether store experiences to watch (Shopifying: When Less is More). And a study on what really propels creativity (Musings on Business (not) as Usual).

In the spirit of innovation, have a great read!

Robin Lewis About Robin Lewis

Robin Lewis has over forty years of strategic operating and consulting experience in the retail and related consumer products industries. He has held executive positions at DuPont, VF Corporation, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), and Goldman Sachs, among others, and has consulted for dozens of retail, consumer products and other companies. In addition to his role as CEO and Editorial Director of The Robin Report, he is a professor at the Graduate School of Professional Studies at The Fashion Institute of Technology.