Now more than ever, radical behavior is what traditional retailers need. I was fortunate last week to have met with the incoming CEO of Kohl’s, Michelle Gass – wicked smart and full of knowledge about consumers and how to engage them coming from her P&G and Starbuck’s gigs. As we conversed, it occurred to me that without actually saying it, she also gets the “retail store” image as a mental barrier. And she is already behaving radically, at least relative to most of the other traditional retailers.
Dancing with the devil so to speak, Kohl’s did a deal with Amazon, placing their shops on Kohl’s platform. Rather than closing locations, they’ve replaced shrinking space with Aldi grocery stores, getting into that business overnight, just as Amazon did with Whole Foods.
Had Michelle and her predecessor, Kevin Mansell, strategized within the old-world paradigm of thinking of Kohl’s as a “retail store,” the Aldi and Amazon deals would not have happened. They obviously deleted the mental barrier of a “retail store” as a static building selling its own and wholesale stuff, and replaced it with an image of a fluid distribution platform, upon which anything and everything can operate, even competitors like Amazon. This is radical thinking and radical behavior. The message to the industry: you are not in the retail business. You are in the distribution business. Understanding this paradigm shift will open an enormous new vista of opportunities. In fact, it is necessary for survival in the new world. Think: the poster child of a fluid distribution platform is Amazon. Speaking of radical behavior, don’t forget to register for the Retail Radicals breakfast at Shoptalk. Click here, or on the banner in the sidebar to RSVP.