NEW YORK—Retail leaders from throughout the nation and abroad gave their views on the outlook for retailing over the next day in yesterday’s National Retail Federation Convention session, “Consumer 2020: What Lies Ahead for the Retail Industry.”
Moderated by Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. Retail Leader for Deloitte, the session included Cathy Green, president of Food Lion Family; Andrew Higginson, chief executive of retailing services and group strategy director for Tesco; Peter Sachse, chief merchandising officer of Macy’s and chairman and chief executive officer of Macys.com; and Ira Kalish, global director of Deloitte Research. The panel discussed the challenges retailers will have to face in the next 10 years in rapidly advancing technology, consumers’ growing interest in sustainability and corporate responsibility, globalization, the accelerating growth of social networking, the aging of the U.S. population and the heightened importance of private-label products.
What will make these challenges a major focus for retailers, the panel said, is the fact that consumers—through the Internet and social networks—now have easy access to more information on products, services and companies than ever before. Through social networking, “consumer power will increase,” Kalish said. “They can get and share information and be part of a community.” The panelists agreed that this information sharing will be largely about products, but will also include information on retailers’ initiatives in sustainability and corporate responsibility.
Regarding globalization, Green said it will be “important to retailers’ strategy and concept development.” Yet because retailing remains essentially a local business, with merchandise assorted to local tastes, “we will need to make it all locally relevant,” she said.
The major opportunity from private label is in giving retailers a new way to differentiate themselves. Referring to it as “own label,” Higginson, “It’s a way for retailers to increase consumer choices while controlling the retailer’s brand.”