The business world is changing – and agility is becoming a watchword for success.
If evidence of this shift were needed, then events this month have proved it decisively.
Here at EO Executives, we have followed the dramatic shift in fortunes of companies that were once held up as 'examples' of how businesses should be run.
Now, the demise of huge retail names like Toys ‘R’ Us and Maplin, have signalled the need for companies and their leaders to not only keep up with trends, but to get ahead of the game. Something that the leadership team at the once 'iconic' US toy giant were unable to do.
As far back as early 2016, Toys ‘R’ Us archaic approach to inventory management was causing concerns about the company’s long-term viability.
A report by the Wall Street Journal suggested that, on Black Friday, the company’s website was in stock 62% of the time when it came to its top 100 selling toys. That might have been acceptable a decade earlier, but the internet has not only transformed the way that companies now need to operate – it has also changed the demands of consumers.
So, what does a 'good' example look like?
At our recent event at the Ageas Bowl, one senior executive said he believed that Argos, against all the odds, were a classic example of how a company can adapt and thrive in an environment that is now hugely different from the one they used to operate in.
Not too long ago, Argos was seen as a dinosaur – a company that could never succeed in a retail world now dominated by the internet.
In November 2017, though, Retail Week named Argos as the UK’s best multi-channel retailer. Around a third of its sales currently come from online, but it is in-store that the company’s investment in technology has really paid off.
People may have come to associate Argos with its famously enormous laminated, and often confusing, catalogue. But the replacement of that hefty book with tablet devices has not only added to the customer experience, it has also made the company far more efficient.
It is the freedom that Argos customers now enjoy, though, that really sets it apart from the majority of competitors. 'Click and collect' has revolutionised the way that Argos operates, particularly as research suggests that click and collect customers are reportedly likely to spend twice as much as regular shoppers.
The company’s fast-track option means that customers can pick up on the same day, or, if the order is placed before 6pm, get same-day delivery.
It is this kind of flexibility that modern business leaders have to attempt to achieve so that the aims of business are commensurate with the needs of the consumer.
Technology is key
Argos’ approach is a mobile one in every sense, with the company’s mobile phone app helping it to become the first multi-channel retailer to generate £1bn of mobile commerce revenue in a single year.
Astonishingly, its sales on mobile devices are growing at a rate of 38%.
Visibility into stock also means that customers are given clear details on whether their item is available at their nearest store. It is enough to have Toys ‘R’ Us customers weeping at their empty shelves.
In short, Argos has proved that with insightful and forward-thinking leadership anything is possible, even in an environment as unforgiving as retail.
Get the right decision makers at the top of the business and the rest follows.
Argos are reaping the rewards. Toys ‘R’ Us have paid the ultimate price.
As a business leader, what factors do think contribute to a successful business? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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