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Conclusion – June 2017

One of the truisms of business is that any organisation that isn’t looking at new approaches is all too likely to stagnate. This doesn’t mean that businesses should pour money into every crazy scheme going, novelty for novelty’s sake, but it does mean that leading companies are constantly on the lookout for new opportunities and new ways of working.

As we’ve seen through this Dimension Report, for European retailers this means looking at expansion abroad. There are recurring difficulties here, which often revolve at least in part around adapting business practices for local conditions. Yet there’s a danger of retailers becoming too fixated on the problems. Squarely facing the difficulties of expansion abroad also involves exposure to fresh ideas and fresh ways of looking at retail. Where there’s a business case for doing so, these can be brought back

to a home market.

Turning to innovation more generally, there’s often a gap between the approaches used, for example, in flagship stores and what can be achieved at scale. That doesn’t mean that rolling out an initiative across the whole company is any less important. Just the opposite. We would argue that retailers that can scale up simple ideas such as efficient click-and-collect systems, which actually aren’t simple at all to implement, are better placed to introduce ideas from that may seem to be at the bleeding edge today, but will be mainstream a decade down the line.

Reflecting this idea, that of new ways of working migrating towards the mass market, our research metrics will evolve over the years ahead. However, we suspect that cross-border expansion and the art of scaling up innovative approaches will continue to be recurring themes.

Indeed, if there’s a so-called hard Brexit, and Britain crashes out of the EU and the EEA, it may be that new ways of thinking about retail will be a necessity for both European retailers trying to sell into Britain and vice-versa. Whatever happens, we’ll continue to monitor the performance of European retailers, applying qualitative and quantitative research methods to the changing business landscape.

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