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Excerpt “Reengineering Retail” Foreword

The following foreword by Joseph Pine is taken from Doug Stephens’s upcoming book, Reengineering Retail: The Future of Selling in a Post-Digital World, available in stores April 2017.

Two great forces flow across the economic landscape.

The first is the commoditization of goods and services, for people increasingly want to buy them at the greatest possible convenience and the lowest possible price. The rise of the Internet as a platform for purchasing exacerbates this force. People can instantly compare prices from one vendor to another, which tends to push them down to the lowest possible price. Or forget the price comparison—just go to where you’re assured a great (if not the lowest) price and even greater convenience: one click, boom, done, your purchase is heading to your home!

The second great force is the shift into the Experience Economy. Goods and services are no longer enough; people increasingly desire experiences—memorable events that engage each individual in an inherently personal way. We see this fundamental shift in the very fabric of the economy in the rise of theme parks, theme restaurants, boutique hotels, and of course experiential retail, where cafes, pop-up stores, showrooms, climbing walls, yoga studios, and countless other experiences engage consumers in retail stores. Surprisingly, manufacturers are making most of these innovations, not retailers themselves!

And naturally these forces intertwine. Consumers want goods and services to be commoditized so they can spend their hard-earned money, and their harder-earned time, on the experiences they value so much more highly.

Retail expert Doug Stephens lays out the stark choice retailers have in the face of these forces: create innovative experiences or be commoditized. Providing a tour of what is being done now and what is possible in the future, Doug lays out a roadmap that you can follow in determining what the store of the future should be—for you. In doing so, he hits on some points near and dear to my own heart.

Doug’s exactly right in saying that we need to understand that “The Store Is Media,” or as I like to put it, the experience is the marketing. The best way to generate demand for your retail offerings is through an experience so engaging that consumers can’t help but spend time in your place, give you their attention, and buy your offerings as a result.

Doug beautifully defines remarkable experiences as those that are engaging, unique, personalized, surprising, and repeatable. How can you design and stage a store experience that fits those five adjectives? Read here to figure that out.

That third adjective, “personalized,” is incredibly important, as Doug highlights with the possibilities for mass-customizing offerings within (and without) your retail venues, particularly thanks to the rise of 3D printing. Even if that particular digital technology doesn’t make sense for your business, do recognize that experiences are inherently personal. They actually happen inside people in reaction to the events and places you stage for them. Therefore, the more personal you make your experiences, and your retail offerings, the more engaging and memorable you will be.

And best of all, Doug encourages you to conquer your fear of all the various digital technologies that so often keep consumers out of physical stores, and he shows you how to embrace them to enhance your in-store experience. You need not dread online buying once you understand that Reality will now and forever more provide the richest of experiences—especially since that richness can be enhanced through technologies that enable you to fuse the real and the virtual.

Let Reengineering Retail be your guide in today’s increasingly turbulent world of retail, for again you must make your choice: stage retail experiences or be commoditized.

Joseph Pine II

Co-founder, Strategic Horizons LLP

Co-author, The Experience Economy and Infinite Possibility: Creating Customer Value on the Digital Frontier

March 27, 2017
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