If Prince Hamlet were to stroll the aisles of his local grocery store, he very well might have a new thought to ponder: To change or not to change, that is the question.
But actually, in today's retail environment, it's not really a question. Change is inevitable, and often necessary to stay relevant in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) retail environment. And with mergers and acquisitions, downsizes, upsizes or retailers touting a new mission or philosophy seemingly at every turn these days, no retailer is safe from change. Nor should they be, for that matter.
"Initiating a change without a clear purpose, goals and a roadmap can be very detrimental to an organization because it becomes hard to measure success and maintain stakeholder buy-in."
"An organization has to be able to adapt and/or change to survive long term," says Courtney Albert, a management consultant specializing in change management for Atlanta-based Parker Avery, a retail consulting group. What worked 50 years ago or even last year, she continues, may no longer be the right approach due to a variety of factors such as technology constraints, consumer behaviors, employee competencies, governmental issues or economic factors.
That sort of change–the kind that is meeting a market need, or improves opportunities in the marketplace or can help grow a company–is good, and can be incredibly beneficial to a retailer.
It's the change for change's sake where organizations often get into trouble.
"Hopefully if the company is undertaking a transformational project it's going to be for the better," says Isaac Krakovsky, partner in the retail and consumer goods practice at Kurt Salmon, New York, and author of "Effective Change Management in Retailers." "Otherwise, why are you doing it?"
"Hopefully if the company is undertaking a transformational project it's going to be for the better. Otherwise, why are you doing it?"
"Initiating a change without a clear purpose, goals and a roadmap can be very detrimental to an organization because it becomes hard to measure success and maintain stakeholder buy-in," adds Albert.
As change becomes an increasingly necessary element of the retail life, retailers must not jump into it blindly. Doing so will torpedo whatever efforts you make, but putting thought into and employing some essential best practices can be a beacon for success.