NRF: ‘Agile’ Is Retail’s New ‘It’ Word
“The biggest threat to retail is the inability to understand this shift,” Christian Davies, executive creative director at Fitch, told the National Retail Federation’s Big Show attendees.
Christian Davies, executive creative director at Fitch, told the National Retail Federation’s Big Show attendees that “agile” is the “it” word for retail in 2016.
“Last year it was about experience,” Davies said. “This year it is about being agile. Agility is about taking experiences and making them more adaptable, more responsive, and, as a result, nimble.”
According to Davies, agility—born in the ’50s as a software-development process—has its own process, approach, and even tools. “It’s a way of working,” Davies said, “with short, intense phases of work, frequent reassessment, and adaptation.”
Davies stressed that applying this way of thinking will mean a new dawn for retail. Today’s consumers demand agility, Davies explained. Gen Y and Z are underwhelmed with old-school retail.
“The biggest problems that traditional retailers face today are Millennials,” Davies said. “Right behind Millennials is Gen Z.”
Gen Z are 12- to 18-year-olds. They are in a constant state of partial attention, Davies said. They live their lives in an increasingly frenetic pace and in a new definition of time: mobile time. What’s life like in mobile time? Nine out of 10 Gen Zers multitask while watching TV, 88% have a phone, and 73% have a smartphone.
“Screens and connections are a natural extension of their being,” Davies said. “They don’t understand what time zones are. They are unrestrained by boundaries of time. They spend the night with their mobile phone and can toggle up to five screens simultaneously, across their netweave of collaborators. They’ve got an attention span of only eight seconds, and they are addicted to distraction.”
How can retailers survive? Launch, improve, repeat, Davies said. “Agile retail is the only way to protect yourself against disruption,” he said. “The biggest threat to retail is the inability to understand this shift. Retail in a state of perpetual beta—never finished, never static, always changing.”