As a legendary football manager used to say "Aim for the sky, and you'll reach the ceiling. Aim for the ceiling and you'll stay on the floor." For food retailers, the importance of making the effort to lift one's thoughts above day-to-day operational issues is greater than it's ever been. We've said it many times before but as we go into 2015, with the combined profits of the UK's publicly-listed food retailers forecast to be down by around 50% compared to a year ago, it's worth reiterating: you can't escape a tsunami of change by continuing to take small, incremental steps in the same direction as before.
Our New Year's To-Do wish-list for food retailers struggling with a structural shift away from large, out-of-town stores to convenience, limited range discount and online channels:
1. Aim high, really high, think Big. When considering a new idea, instead of asking "who's done this before?", try asking "why haven't we thought of/done this before?".
2. Test small, fail fast, test again.
3. Take a more holistic view of online. Instead of treating digital as a completely separate unit (which is still the norm for most retailers we've met), consider the impact that the growth of online will have on your store business, and what can be done to preserve the latter's profitability. The fact that for the market as a whole the shift online adds costs and complexity but not sales is probably the most important strategic conundrum that food retailers will have to face up to over the next few years. All the more reason to refer back to points 1 & 2 above.