New Delhi, August 10, 2018: Retail is at a crossroads. The industry recently came off its best holiday in the past six years, but despite the top level performance, something still feels off. What’s amiss is that the fuel for the top line of the aforementioned growth is all coming from one place digital, and specifically Amazon, in the form of the proliferation of long-tail brands and products. Traffic and year-over-year comp store growth for many legacy retailers’ actual physical stores still remains a slog.

According to reports published in The endemic problem with the above growth trajectory and the underlying dynamics is that the rate of digital penetration does not appear to be slowing down either. Statista predicts that e-commerce penetration will grow from 9% in 2017 to 12.4% by 2020. This growth will be fueled by an acceleration in the direct-to-consumer grocery business, which until now has lagged behind other product categories in terms of digital penetration, and by a general continued increase in consumers’ overall preferences and desires to shop online, all of which will only place further pressures on the already strained capital structures of America’s bricks-and-mortar retailers.

There has to be a better way, and fortunately there is.

The answer lies in thinking beyond the constraints of the two party system of retail operations, e-commerce and legacy bricks-and-mortar retailing, and instead in employing an entirely new operating system for reaching and inspiring consumers to shop — a system that blends, yes, the best of what both current worlds have to offer but that also offers the best of an entirely new blend of human, digital, and physical experience design, a system that gives consumers a new means of inspiration, selection, immediate gratification, physical sensation, and convenience than ever before and that ultimately renders the distinction of digital vs. physical irrelevant according to

Alibaba’s concept of “New Retail” is the answer. It offers the hope of making American retail great again by removing the albatross of legacy retail thinking that currently sits around the necks of some of the country’s most hallowed companies.

Now, before anyone goes all Rising Sun, xenophobic, or jingoistic on me, please know that this argument has nothing to do with politics, hats, or slogans. Far from it. This argument is about doing the opposite, about looking beyond the American retail industry’s comfort zone for study and outside inspiration in the quest to find answers to the complex problems that plague the retail industry.


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