OMD x Retail: Only Those That Disrupt Will Survive

The last decade has seen some real challenges on the high-street. As the continuous advent of new technologies shift and create consumer behaviours, retail businesses have had to pivot their approach to in-store and online engagement. Not everyone has been successful in doing this, and the loss of over 400 medium-to-large UK retail businesses in the last decade can attest to that. However, many legacy retailers have transformed their businesses to become major disruptors in their sector, creating new engagement opportunities that surprise and excite both new and established consumers.


However, it’s not all bad news for retailers. By capitalising on the power of this disruptive force, and understanding the role that technology now plays in consumer engagement, many companies are riding the waves of success in this evolving era. As PWC reports, Uber dropped off its billionth global ride within six years, Netflix streams 125 million hours of content worldwide each day and 90% of US respondents surveyed claimed to be Amazon shoppers. These companies succeeded not by adapting their businesses to adhere to consumer demands, but actually changed the way consumers engaged with businesses by creating new consumer behaviours.


Bricks-and-mortar stores are different, and creating new consumer behaviours are harder to achieve where legacy demands that stores act in a certain way – often brand heritage can be a disadvantage in a way that newer brands such as Uber, Netflix or Amazon aren’t as impacted by. According to PWC, shoppers want a seamless shopping experience both online and offline. However according to their findings, how this is delivered to them differs. In-store, consumers expect experiences, with knowledgeable staff to guide them through their purchase decisions, whereas online they are looking for convenience. Some of our clients have begun addressing this, such as Starbucks with their ambient, in-store experience with accessible Wi-Fi and extended menu, paired with an app to expedite your coffee purchasing for those on the move. Nike offers a running club, where consumers can join other like-minded athletes to jog around the city together, paired with a popular fitness tracking app that in itself has created a new type of consumer behaviour.


Throughout October, OMD EMEA is running an internal initiative at our headquarters in London, aimed at addressing these challenges and capitalising on the opportunities within the retail sector. The OMD Retail Expo is a four-week programme of talks, training initiatives and thought-leadership sessions, designed to empower our agency teams, and subsequently our clients, to become disruptors of their respective industries. We will be tackling some of the most pertinent trends in the retail industry, presented by some of the leading experts in the market. We will also be running our very first Retail Expo Start-Up Village, focusing on shoppable customer content, in-store experiences online, and utilising neural networking to optimise consumer feedback. We will welcome behemoths from the digital world who are already disrupting the retail sector, including Google, Amazon, Oath and Facebook and bring together our very own OMD and OMG specialists to inspire everyone to become disruptors in their field; including social commerce, affiliate marketing and mobile retail. Stay tuned for more updates throughout October and November!


With Business Wire predicting that the global retail industry will be worth 28 trillion USD by 2019, the size of the prize is huge. As new, bolder companies come into the market and disrupt the legacy thinking, slower brands are missing the opportunity to pivot and failing. But with that comes even greater numbers of these new, bolder companies and consumers’ expectations are continually evolving with technical transformation. Only those that adapt and disrupt will survive.


About Author

Stuart Morris

Stuart Morris is an Executive Director at OMD EMEA, who leads the Digital aspect of the Sony Pictures international team. With a remit covering 26 regions (EMEA, APAC and LATAM), it is his passion to deliver digital excellence via innovation and performance. Stuart joined OMD in 2013, having spent 8 years at ZenithOptimedia where he worked alongside a wide array of clients including Mars Inc., RAC, Gucci and eOne Films.

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