Retail Localization with George MacDonald

April 15, 2021



Our special guest, George MacDonald, brings decades of experience as executive editor of Retail Week to talk about the latest trends in the industry. What does retail localization mean? Are department stores and malls going out of business? What can retailers do to stand apart from their competitors?

  • We ask these questions and more of our special guest, George MacDonald, executive editor of Retail Week. George has interviewed some of the biggest names in retail and has observed the industry from every angle for decades.
  • In this episode, we talk about the trend of retail localization and whether department stores can live to see another day. George strongly believes that retailers need to re-focus on the customer and throw out the old playbook to survive in a hyper-competitive market. 

Conversation Rundown

[ 3:45-5:27 ] New era of localization of retail
Local shops have flourished during the pandemic. Independent retailers stood apart in terms of their quality of service and product. Beyond that, consumers were more focused on the economic realities of this pandemic. There was a major push towards buying local, whether that meant grocery or fashion. This trend is going to continue even beyond the pandemic.

[ 11:06-13:08 ] Reports of stores' deaths have been exaggerated
Stores play a part in most purchases. Of course, some major retailers have fallen recently. But the businesses that have fallen had long-standing problems. In other words, stores were not to blame. Big retailers, invest in the customer experience. They leverage stores to market their brand and enable faster order fulfillment instead of viewing stores as an ankle weight.

[ 13:10-14:16 ] The Primark Case Study
Primark has no real eCommerce presence but they are a brilliantly run brick-and-mortar business. They have retained their market share in the pandemic. This proves that brick-and-mortar is not the problem. Brands can survive and flourish operating primarily brick-and-mortar businesses as long as they invest in the customer experience.

[ 16:01-16:54 ] New KPIs to measure the success of stores
The customer journey has changed dramatically in the last decade. Buying decisions are influenced by a variety of different channels. And stores continue to be one of the primary channels that influence those buying decisions. Local stores are key. Retailers need to come up with new KPIs for how to measure the success of their stores.

[ 25:58-26:36 ] Customers care about justice
Customers today care about justice. That word, justice, can span a lot of different topics: social justice, sustainability, etc. Many retailers are making statements with their wallets. They choose to give their hard-earned money to those retailers that care about the same issues they do. It's a major issue in the retail industry and one that can be addressed without compromising on profits.

Meet the Experts

George MacDonald is executive editor of Retail Week. He has worked on the title since 1998, originally starting as a reporter, and covered sectors ranging from food to department stores. With a broad understanding of retail across a wide variety of categories, George is well placed to provide opinions and link the dots across the industry.

Retail Tips & Tweetables

The retailers have to come up with new KPIs for how they measure the success of their stores.

If the brand doesn't have a local store, they are totally going to miss out on the local opportunity.

We do talk a lot of things like experience etc...but actually, a brilliant experience in a store is getting in and out quickly.

Retail is all about the experience.

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