Metrics Monthly Q1 | 21


The customer is still king

David Wylie discusses how the collapse of big high street names shows there is a pressing need to change with the times and adapt to digital expectations, or risk suffering the same fate

It is always an eye-opener when busi- nesses that have been at the top of their game fall from grace. There is a long list of industry leaders who no longer lead. Almost overnight, household names reduced to shadows of their former selves. The most recent that spring to my mind are in retail: Top Shop, Debenhams, Carphone Ware- house, Oasis and Mothercare. The common denominator for all of these – and many others not men- tioned here – is that the landscape on which they built their success stories slowly changed over time, but they did not notice. Or, if they did, they chose not to do much about it.

Boardrooms charged with ensuring the longer term vision of these businesses failed to act in a timely fashion. So, by the time they realised that they had to act, it was already too late. Many of the recent failures have a lot to do with sticking to analogue ways of doing things when digital was the only feasible way forward . None of those to fail could be said to have had impres- sive digital platforms to match the appeal of their retail presences in their heyday. The high street was where they really wanted to be. Having invested so much in it over the years, it was in their DNA, which was always going to be difficult

to unpick. They were blind to the pos- sibility that there would come a time when bricks and mortar would not be enough and would be eclipsed by virtual identities for a lot of their customers. "Almost overnight, household names reduced to shadows of their former selves." They were left to come to the dawning realisation that the fixed costs of their high street stores were exactly that – fixed – and could not bend to the new reality.

26 | Metrics Monthly

Q1 | 2021

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