Looking at the five forces shaping retail’s future

There are five forces shaping the future of retail, according to an invaluable article published yesterday by The Robin Report. Interestingly, those forces seem to track closely with what we think e-commerce players should worry about as the future unfolds.

According to the article, retail executives engaged in scenario planning should examine five broad forces that will determine who survives and who does not in the post-pandemic retail world. Those forces are Acceleration, Distortion, Depression, Natural Selection and Government.

Scattered within the descriptions of those five forces were references to the need to commit deeply and quickly to digital retailing.

  • “the march to e-commerce has become a sprint”
  • “the paradigm for much of retail, today and for the foreseeable future, will be digital first”
  • “successful retailers target customer micro-segments, adapting personalized marketing”

We agree. Completely.

If anything, we are likely even more convinced than the author that time is short. We would, however, add one caveat.

As we’ve noted before, we believe that the end of the pandemic will result in a short-term frenzy in e-commerce advertising. Bids will hit heights unlike anything we’ve seen before as e-commerce players try to lock in market share and survive before it’s too late.

That’s going to be good news for sites that run ads. But it will be a very tough environment for most advertisers. The future of ecommerce retail will belong

  1. to major players who have pockets deep enough to handle paying too much for marketing for a long time,
  2. or those willing to commit to highly sophisticated, machine-learning approaches to customer acquisition, ad retargeting, etc.
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