Changing the Mind Set – A View on the Future of Retailing by John Stanley It is rare to get delegates from five continents and twenty countries brainstorming retail global trends, but this did happen recently at the Pets International Conference in Brussels, Belgium. This topic was clearly focussed on pets, but the outcomes could apply to any retail sector and are worth sharing. In most countries the population is not growing fast enough to grow the market sufficiently and therefore the battle is for market share to ensure retail survival. The result of this is increased pressure on discounting. This is very evident in Germany, but is spreading across the globe in a time when operational costs are rising. The inevitable squeeze on gross profits is causing suppliers and retailers to re-look at the supply chain and how it can be improved and developed. The logistics of retailing are becoming more complex, costly and difficult to control, whilst the new technology can be baffling as well as challenging. Action for the future The group’s decisions on future action to develop the retail industry included: Improved efficiency in supply chain management. The retailer must take more control of the process but work with wholesalers as partners to develop the system. Integrated category management will become even more important as retailers focus even more on specific demographic consumer targets and aim to meet their specific wants. Shelf management and assortment management will, by necessity, become a lot more refined. Retailers will need to reduce inventory on the shelf and be a lot more selective on the assortment provided within a range. Retailers will become more focussed. They will analyse their core competencies and add value to the core offer by providing increased services and alternative solutions based on their offer. An example of this in the pet industry is the USA based Petco retailer who now provides ï¿½baby sittingï¿½ service for pets whilst their owners are out at work. Finally, as mass commodity retailers continue to develop ï¿½boxï¿½ store type retail outlets, the smaller businesses must be seen to be different in the eyes of the consumer. Doï¿½s and Donï¿½ts The conference looked at some key doï¿½s and donï¿½ts: Do not become too much of a technocrat. Retailing is an emotional industry. Do be consumer driven in everything you do. Do speak the same language as your customer. Do be seen as an innovator. Do NOT think that things will be the same tomorrow as they are today.