Letting Go Of Legacy with Cynthia Hollen

February 25, 2021



Our special guest, Cynthia Hollen, brings over 20 years of experience in retail to talk about the importance of merging online and offline shopping experiences. Why are retail leaders so unwilling to innovate? Should brick-and-mortar traditionalists be fearing their digitally native counterparts? Is mall-based shopping on its way out?

  • We ask these questions and more of our special guest, Cynthia Hollen, CEO of Omnitail Strategies. Cynthia has over 20 years of experience working with the world’s top retailers, brands, and wholesalers, and has launched several successful companies herself, including one of the first eCommerce consultancies.
  • In this podcast, she walks us through the challenges and many benefits associated with achieving “omnitailing” (a term she coined).

Conversation Rundown

[ 2:40-3:48 ] Why new and smart DTC brands became household names during a pandemic
When the pandemic first hit, the smart brands acted instead of stepping back. They recognized that they had an audience sitting at home and browsing online. A lot of the direct-to-consumer brands that had not been well-known at all rose to prominence. Surprisingly, the retailers with more funds and a stronger brand were the ones that froze, waiting to see what was next instead of responding immediately. In retail, waiting is never an option.

[ 4:23-5:17 ] Retailers need to let the ideas in the innovations.
Retailers need to get off airplanes and get in-store. For some reason, retailers still think all of the innovation happens in a boardroom. The truth is that it happens when you have a chance to observe your own store operations. We all know what a good customer experience looks and feels like. We've all been on the receiving end of a terrible customer experience. It's time for executives to get off Zoom calls and experience their brand first-hand. Only then can they drive real change.

[ 12:15-15:05 ] What are the technologies retailers are embracing
20 years ago, we were separating catalog customers in a different database. We're still doing that by keeping online and offline departments separate.eCommerce and brick-and-mortar professionals don't communicate as they should. They sit in different rooms, on opposite ends of the building, and they generally connect on marketing initiatives. Retailers need to start thinking in terms of one PNL. The customer is the same, whether they like to touch and feel the product or they prefer to order online.

[ 19:31-22:26 ] Bricks are not hurdles to innovation, but your legacy thinking is
Your stores are not your problem. The "bricks" in brick-and-mortar are not your problem. The problem is you still think of yourself as a legacy brand, and you still behave in a legacy way.

[ 26:03-26:52 ] Treat your eCommerce as an integrated part of your stores.
Treat eCommerce as an integrated part of your business. Stop treating the online sphere as a separate department. You're selling to the same person through different channels.

Meet the Experts

Founded and manage Omnitail Strategies in 2001, a high-end provider of strategy, technology/eCommerce and operations consulting and contract CxO services for emerging and Fortune 500 global retailers, industrial wholesalers, and CPG brands. Expert in both brick-and-mortar and digital channel innovations to maximize profitability, efficiency, market share, and brand exposure in highly competitive global marketplaces.

Retail Tips & Tweetables

For a transformation, the pull comes from the consumers but the push has to come from the innovators.

Your hurdles to being innovative are not the bricks, nor the existing technologies you have in place, but your thinking of yourself as a legacy brand instead of thinking of yourself as an innovator is.

Whether you're DTC or you’re two months in business, or 200 years in business, pay attention to your customers and get out of your own way in your head to be creative.

Take advantage of your legacy-ness and your power. All the things that should be your assets should not be your liabilities.

B&M stores are not just the traditional walk-in, pack-a-package, swipe-a-credit-card, walk-out to a place that they used to be. They have a lot more roles to play now.

Subscribe To Our Podcast