Much has been written in recent years about the shift from traditional shopping behaviour to a more integrated, ‘omnichannel’ approach to retail. But, as the continued disruption in all aspects of the retail industry shows us, there is sadly no silver bullet strategy that guarantees commercial success for retailers, nor for the brands that sell their products through channel partners.
Take Marks & Spencer, the venerable cornerstone of the UK high street, which has just fallen out of the FTSE 100 for the first time since the index’s inception 35 years ago. There have been many high profile traditional retail business failures in recent years, some of which are terminal. Goodbye Toys R Us, so long Sears. Businesses that defined categories and seemed stable and dominant have disappeared.
Yet, at the same time, Jack Ma, the man who famously coined the phrase ‘New Retail’, is announcing his retirement on his 55th birthday, 20 years after he founded the Chinese online giant, Alibaba. He has a net worth estimated to be north of $35bn.