Trading conditions in retail haven’t improved – discounting is still the preferred method of promotion – retail marketing strategies are largely unchanged.

Is Omni Channel the solution?

Is Social Media the silver bullet?

When are Australian retailers going to accept the reality?

The reality is that everything’s changed – but nothing’s changed!

What does that mean in practice?

In our work as retail designers and marketers, and more recently in our new digital design practice, we have recognised that digital represents a whole lot of new ways to deliver established retail principles – only better.

Reality is that retailers are still dependent on catalogues. But how many Australian retailers are using digital publishing tools and rich media in their catalogues? Where were you that momentous week when both Fairfax and News Limited announced their digital publishing master-plans?

Reality is that customers still don’t think they get good customer service from staff and that may explain, in part, why they have migrated in droves to self-check-outs and self-check-ins.

Reality is most stores in the country are Internet-free zones where the only online access for customers is through their mobile devices with expensive data plans. There is more to Wi-Fi than a free service in cafes!

Reality is that the way we deliver product information to customers at the point of sale has not changed much since the Internet was invented.

Reality is that the level of engagement of loyalty program members for most stores is limited to asking if you are a member after you have made your purchases.

Reality is that in the Direct Marketing boom of the 1980’s we dreamed of the ultimate goal of 1:1 communication – not imagining that the smart phone would bring this closer than ever before.

Isn’t it interesting?

The world of technology has changed enormously but the day to day needs of retailers have not.

I would argue that everything’s changed – but nothing has.

By that I mean that the tried and tested principles of retailing have probably not changed. But the tools now available to us have changed – and now it’s time to connect old principles to new media.

I, for one, have been around long enough to know some of the retail principles that work – but am hopefully open-minded enough to believe that we are busy discovering the tools of the future.

Nothing’s changed – everything’s changed!