All around us, 360 degrees and 24/7, globally and in virtually every part of our lives, we hear, read and see the almost desperate need for not incremental, but fundamental, change. From politics to economics to society to the environment to ethics and morality, it’s a “backs against the wall” moment of realization that fundamental change cannot wait.
And, even as we hear “chatter” about change and see some movement in a new direction, the big question remains: will we find the desire, will and tenacity to make the necessary “bite the bullet” changes, or will we once again look for band-aids?
My article “Bubbles and Kicking the Can Down the Road” addresses the global economic issues that have our collective backs against the wall. I urge you to read it. The questions and scenarios raised are relevant to every area of our lives begging for major transformation.
This transformation theme, albeit non-life-threatening, is also central to the article: “Macy’s: The Biggest and Last Department Store Standing? Or An Emerging New Model?” I know the article is going to once again provoke my critics and elicit howls of “….there goes Lewis again, beating up on the department stores and declaring them on the road to extinction….” I certainly have made such declarations and said it in many different ways and times over the past forty years (I hate to say). However, what I’ve really been saying all along, and have written in my co-authored book The New Rules of Retail, is that the department store traditional business model is dead. Furthermore, I would like to go on record saying what is also in the book: that the traditional department stores that transform their traditional business models can actually be big winners over all other sectors.
So, I never did say Macy’s was, or was becoming, extinct. In fact, as recently as 2005, in the earlier Robin Reports, I speculated that Terry Lundgren, on the verge of acquiring May Company, might seize the moment to propel his vision beyond just being the biggest and last department store in a dying channel, to transforming the old traditional business model into an exciting, relevant and branded (Macy’s) destination for fun, entertainment, and a great shopping experience.
And, indeed, as you read the article, you will understand my view that Mr. Lundgren and team have adopted transformative strategies that are beginning to play out in exciting ways. I believe at the end of the day, all of these strategies, once implemented across Macy’s entire enterprise, will represent a new business model that will replace that of the traditional department store. This model has the potential to trump all other retail models, including its once great nemesis, the retail specialty chains. So stuff that in your pipe and smoke it.
The only dilemma: if the department store is transformed, what do we call the new model?
Have a great read, and a successful Holiday selling season.