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Making Moves: Steps Towards “Growth Mode” in Retail

Tis the season for predictions about trends for the next year in retail. Forrester released predictions for 2021, which Chain Store Age (CSA) reported:  
  • Logistics will dominate retail investments.
  • Mall operators will reinvent themselves.
  • Brand manufacturers will take control of their destiny. 
  • Contactless and deferred payments will break more than 50 years of U.S. consumer payment habits.
  • Regulators and courts will tackle consumer protection, marketplaces, and privacy.
According to CSA, Forrester analysts say that retailers “will have to determine whether they are in survival, adaptive or growth mode — and chart paths from there.”

This is an important distinction. We’ve seen a number of retailers cycle through survival, adaptive and growth modes. A growing list of retailers filed for bankruptcy as a means to survive. We’ve heard about strategies to adapt; outdoor retailer Moosejaw surveyed its customer base to learn what was most important in terms of priorities moving forward. Gap announced new store closures and an effort to grow their digital business. Dick’s Sporting Goods’ and Lululemon’s earnings reports showed growth during the pandemic. 

Retail Dive writes "This success online is a direct result of the technology and fulfillment investments we have made over the years, as well as better integration of our digital and store channels," Dick's Sporting Goods President Lauren Hobart said on a call with analysts.

As we shift focus to a new year, what technology investments should retailers make in order to “move modes”; from survival to adaptive or adaptive to growth?

Making Moves: Steps Towards “Growth Mode” in Retail

Retailers who adapt their strategies to support or extend their digital transformations will see the most growth. Their paths to success are and will be both varied and constantly evolving. Regardless of a retailer’s path to growth, here are considerations to take along the way.  

“The real story is data, right?”
John Donahoe II, President and CEO made this remark during Nike’s earning call on September 22nd. For Nike, “will use data to stay a step ahead and help [us] create a better product as consumer insights power our business end-to-end toward even greater growth.” 

Data is a key element in digital transformations. Knowing your customer, personalizing their digital experience, and feeding the loyalty loop is best driven by data and a best-in-class tech stack to support it. Here is what retail industry leaders consider important when evaluating that tech stack

The Shift to Digital Has Heightened the Need for Technology Built for Retail
It’s important to understand that the best technology investments retail can make moving forward are built specifically for the retail industry. True Fit’s GM of Products and Partnership, Scott Duby, writes:
“Consider profitability within the industry. The goal of profitability may be the same as other verticals, but the strategies retailers use to achieve this goal are unique. Increasing conversions, growing a shopper’s lifetime value, considering repeat visits and order rates, reducing returns – these objectives are all unique to retail.” 

The retail industry is unique and requires technological support and capabilities to enable these nuanced objectives throughout every step of the customer journey. Duby highlights unique objectives, plus complex customer engagement cycles and the “speed of retail” as proof points in his analysis about the importance of tech built for retail. In order to best transform, grow and scale, it’s worth considering retail tech that was built with the structure, processes and measurement for retail. 

Regardless of the “mode” a retailer exists in - survival, adaptive or growth - as Forrester’s predictions states, brand manufacturers will take control of their destiny. We’ve seen retail leaders take control in the past months while others are racing to follow. Tackling evolving customer needs is the place to start. Get a guide from True Fit, Bluecore and Google Cloud on where to start.